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Former Hawks skipper returns, forgotten veteran set for VFL

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JARRYD Roughead will make his long-awaited Hawthorn return on Friday night.

Roughead has missed five consecutive Hawks matches, having been unceremoniously dropped from the senior side in round eight, but will return to face the Swans at the SCG.

The 32-year-old was one of the first Hawks to arrive at Melbourne Airport on Thursday, with coach Alastair Clarkson confirming his inclusion for the pivotal encounter.

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"He's going to play," Clarkson said.

"We've been really pleased with what he's done, particularly helping out some of the younger blokes down at Box Hill.

"He wasn't spectacular with his form last week, but he's had a block of games where he's really contributed well.

"Last week we went inside 50 19 times, but we couldn't take a mark, so he's gone back and performed pretty credibly at Box Hill and gets his chance again tomorrow night.

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"It's exciting for him and exciting for us. It was never our intention to write his career off four or five weeks ago when he went out of the side. But he knew he needed to do some things in his game to give him the best chance of being able to contribute at senior level.

"We feel like he's done that and Sydney at the SCG, with that type of ground, we feel like he might be able to make a contribution for us."

There had been murmurings Roughead might struggle to return for a 'farewell' game before season's end, with his surprise inclusion coming after an indifferent spell of form in the VFL.

The four-time premiership player and former captain has kicked only two goals from his last four games with Box Hill, with younger prospect Mitch Lewis impressing last week.

"Some of it is his organisation," Clarkson said of Roughead's return.

"It was never really his trouble at senior level, but he'll force some contests, the patterns that he runs, the amount of contests he gets to … that's important with all forwards.

"At various stages in the earlier part of the year, he wasn't able to get to the amount of contests that we would have liked. But at the SCG, it might allow him to get to a few more contests because the ground is not as long.

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"We'll see how it goes. He's taken it in his stride, like we expected him to, and wants to contribute to our club no matter whether it's at senior level or at Box Hill.

"Right from the get-go, he was never going out of the side and that was going to be the end of his career. It was 'work your way back into the form we need you to be in and if you're doing that, you'll give yourself a chance'. That's what's happened in this case."

A combination of Roughead's return to the forward line, in addition to captain Ben Stratton's two-match suspension for pinching and stomping, will likely push the versatile James Sicily back into defence.

Meanwhile, fellow four-time premiership Hawthorn player Grant Birchall will also return this week through the VFL, set to play his first game in nearly two years due to persistent knee and calf injuries.