HAWTHORN will persist using James Sicily predominantly in defence, but won't be afraid to throw him into attack when the need arises.

Sicily booted 30 goals in 22 games last year in a breakout season for the 22-year-old, but he has been moved to the backline for the JLT Community Series.

He started in defence against Port Adelaide at Hickinbotham Oval on Sunday before moving forward and booting two goals in the space of five minutes.

Hawks assistant coach Adem Yze – who took the coaching reins this week while Alastair Clarkson took a back seat – said Sicily would continue to focus on learning his craft as a defender.

"We like the fact he can (play) both ends, so we're not going to give up on the fact he can (play) down back and that's probably going to be his priority," Yze said.

"But the fact he has got some X-factor and we know what he can do when he's forward, it was good for him to hit the scoreboard when he did have the opportunity today.

"Having that flexibility of going forward and back, we like to have two or three players that can do that.

"I probably prefer him to start back and be our swingman for now."

Yze said Ryan Burton was in a similar boat in that he is able to play at both ends of the ground depending on the situation.

The Hawks are confident vice-captain Liam Shiels, Grant Birchall and defender Josh Gibson will be fit to face Essendon in round one.

Birchall was a late withdrawl with a tight calf while Shiels copped a hit to the stomach against North Melbourne a fortnight ago.

"Birchall, Shiels and Gibson were possibilities to play this week," Yze said.

"Just on our overall management of their game time, we just felt there was no reason to risk them and they played enough footy and we'll have some match simulation over the next two weeks.

"We think they are cherry ripe for round one."

Clarkson watched the game against the Power from the grandstand as Yze took over the main duties for the week.

"He (Clarkson) allows us to coach for the week and he gives us some indication of what he wants with the team and selection, but the week leading up to it, the team meeting beforehand, the team meeting last night, it's all up to us and how we want to run it," Yze said.

"It's a great initiative and great learning for us for the coaching staff to have a go at it."