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Hawk Sam Mitchell a late withdrawal from clash with Bombers

Sam Mitchell of the Hawks in action during the 2014 NAB Challenge match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the North Melbourne Kangaroos at Aurora Stadium, Launceston on February 21, 2014. (Photo: Sean Garnsworthy/AFL Media)
Sam Mitchell is a late out for the Hawks on Friday night
HAWTHORN has suffered a major blow ahead of Friday night's clash with Essendon, with former skipper Sam Mitchell a late withdrawal with calf soreness.

The Hawks were already heading into Friday night's game with an undermanned defence, with Brian Lake (suspension) and Ben Stratton (hamstring) sidelined. 

Mitchell will also be sorely missed, both in the key midfield battle and across half-back, where he has played increasingly since last season.

"[He's] a little bit tight in the calf, that's what happens when you're 31," Lake told AFL Live.

"He's played every pre-season game and played the first game of the season. With our club and where we want to get to, if he's a little bit tight in the calf, we don't want to make it a two or three week injury. 

"If it's one week, we'll take that."

The Hawks have yet to give a reason for Mitchell's withdrawal, but reports on Friday said he had pulled up sore after the round one clash with the Brisbane Lions.

Angus Litherland came into the Hawks team to replace Mitchell.

The Bombers went into Friday night's clash with an unchanged team, but will also be without some key players, with ruckman Tom Bellchambers, forward Jason Winderlich and midfielder Jake Melksham all missing.