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Hawks remain upbeat on gun defender's hammy

Remorseful Tiger, Dee in doubt Nat Edwards with the latest news

HAWTHORN remains upbeat about important defender Ben Stratton's prospects of returning from a hamstring injury in this year's finals series.

Stratton won't play in Friday night's knockout semi-final against Melbourne at the MCG, but the Hawks' director of high performance Andrew Russell gives him a chance of being back a week later.

It is the same prognosis Russell suggested for the 29-year-old the day after Hawthorn's loss to Richmond last Thursday night.

"His recovery is as we expect. He's got a low-grade hamstring (strain)," Russell told

"He definitely won't play this week and he'll be an assess if we get through this week for the following one."

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There was good news for key forward Ryan Schoenmakers, who is available for selection after being a late withdrawal against the Tigers because of ongoing Achilles soreness.

"He's had a bit of an Achilles for the whole year and he's managed it well, (but) he's had a couple of times that it flared up, and it flared up last week," Russell said.

"It's now settled down and he'll be available and in the mix to be selected."

Grant Birchall's on-again, off-again return from his long-term PCL issue in his right knee is back on track and he could play for Box Hill against Williamstown on Sunday.

A minor adductor strain delayed the four-time premiership star from coming back last week, and he will have to prove at training on Thursday that he is right to go.

"Birch, as we know, has had a few issues adapting to the intensity of skill, after missing so much time," Russell said.

"But he trained today, did the full skills session with the boys this morning, and he trained well.

"We need to see how he pulls up – we train again on Thursday – and he's an outside chance to play football this weekend."

Will Langford (hamstring), who last played in the VFL on August 5, will miss at least another week.