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Buddy expected to return for blockbuster

Lance Franklin of the Hawks celebrates a goal during the 2013 AFL Round 14 match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Brisbane Lions at Aurora Stadium, Launceston on June 30, 2013. (Photo: Lachlan Cunningham/AFL Media)
Lance Franklin has recovered from a knee injury and is expected to play against Essendon

HAWTHORN expects star forward Lance Franklin to play in Friday night's blockbuster clash against Essendon after he completed a strong week of training at Waverley Park on Thursday.

Click here for Doc Larkins' full injury update 

Franklin, who has missed the Hawks' past two games with swelling and bleeding behind the knee, moved well at training with the main group on Thursday in the Hawks' final tune-up ahead of the top-of-the-ladder clash at Etihad Stadium. 

Coach Alastair Clarkson said rest and massage had allowed the fluid to drain from Franklin's knee and he would play if cleared on Thursday afternoon. 

"Obviously he's missed a couple of games but we're expecting he'll be right and he'll play, Clarkson said. 

"He's trained well this week. When he's right to go he's right to go. 

"He wasn't too far away last weekend, but he just wasn't quite right and didn't feel comfortable training. We didn't push him too hard." 

Clarkson also declared premiership midfielder Brad Sewell had done enough to hold his place against the Bombers after being dropped a fortnight ago.   

Sewell returned against the Western Bulldogs last week as a late replacement for Sam Mitchell, who has since recovered from a stomach bug. 

"He was quite good for us last week against the Bulldogs and he's a proud man," Clarkson said of Sewell. 

"His standards are really high and he wasn't keeping to those for about a six-week block and he suffered the consequences as a result of that. 

"He came back and played particularly well last week so he'll get another crack at it tomorrow night." 

Clarkson played down the significance of Friday night's clash, despite the opportunity Essendon has to snare top spot if it can end a three-game losing streak against the Hawks.   

He said the Hawks were focused on playing their best football in September. 

"Whoever wins tomorrow night, it's not going to be catastrophic for either side if they lose," he said. 

"Nor is it going to be season-defining if you win. 

"This time last year we were playing some superb footy, but we didn't play our best footy in the finals. 

"If we play well or don't tomorrow night it's not going to be anywhere near as catastrophic as if we don't play well in finals." 

Nathan Schmook is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow him on Twitter @AFL_Nathan