HAWTHORN has been dealt a major blow with spearhead Jack Gunston ruled out of Friday night's cut-throat semi-final clash against Adelaide at the MCG.
Gunston has been under a cloud since his right leg buckled under his body in the fourth quarter of the Hawks' qualifying loss to West Coast in Perth.
He was helped from the ground and had ice strapped to his right ankle and knee as he limped into the rooms post-match.
After having scans on Saturday, the 23-year-old has been a notable absentee from training this week and the Hawks have put a line through him for the semi-final.
"Jack won't play this week. He's making steady progress with the injury but not fast enough to be available to play on Friday night," football operations manager Chris Fagan told the club's website.
"So he'll be out of the team, but hopefully if we can get a win on Friday night he'll be back in calculations for the following week."
Gunston is the Hawks' leading goalkicker this season with 53 majors – only five fewer than last year's career-best haul.
Key position swingman Ryan Schoenmakers, premiership backman Matt Spangher and young half-forward James Sicily loom as possible replacements for the 193cm star.
"We've got lots of different options. There's guys who have been playing really well at Box Hill like James Sicily and Timmy O'Brien," Fagan said.
"Matt Spangher could come in and potentially play that role as well, so there's a few different options for us, or we might even go smaller with a Jed Anderson type or someone like that.
"We haven't had a really thorough meeting about the team for this weekend, so I'm sure all those options will get talked about."
Fagan said Isaac Smith (knee) pulled up well after racing the clock to play against the Eagles, but the speedy wingman was disappointed with his 16-disposal, one-goal performance.
"Isaac pulled up really well. The thing about it was he wouldn't have played if he wasn't fully fit," Fagan said.
"He was fully fit and came out of the game feeling good, somewhat disappointed with his performance along with a lot of his teammates – so he's looking forward to rebounding this week.
"But he's out there training today and I'm sure he'll be up and about on Friday night."
Apart from Gunston, the Hawks have a relatively clean bill of health and are aiming to keep their hopes of a three-peat alive.
"Our group's been a very resilient group over a long period of time, we rarely lose two games in a row," Fagan said.
"Obviously Adelaide are in really strong form, they were terrific on Saturday night against the Bulldogs. They've got a lot to play for, we've got a lot to play for – we want to keep our dream alive.
"Judging by the mood of the players this week when they walked in they're very determined, they were disappointed, but usually they're able to turn that around into a really strong performance."