JAEGER O'Meara is set to bolster Hawthorn's midfield for Thursday night's clash with Richmond, but don't expect too many changes to its backline.
The classy midfielder has trained fully this week and the Hawks are anticipating he will be given the all-clear to meet the Tigers at the MCG after his facial fracture at training last month.
He sat out the Hawks' round two belting at the hands of Geelong last week and should be back to help a midfield that was considered "fourth-rate" by coach Alastair Clarkson.
"We've got to get the final tick-off from the doc this morning but we're hoping that will be the case," Clarkson said on Wednesday.
"With all these skeletal injuries you're relying on the advice of the surgeon and the doctors but they said to us if it wasn't round [two] then it would be round [three], so we're reasonably comfortable that'll be the case.
"On the back of last week's performance [O'Meara] is pretty important. We got smacked around the ball last week and we need to be a lot better in that space.
"That wasn't just personnel – a lot of it was to do with method and intent – so whether Jaeger returns or not, we expect our resolve in that part of the ground needs to be stronger than what it was that what it was certainly in the second half against Geelong."
While O'Meara's impending inclusion will see change in the Hawks' midfield brigade, Clarkson will stick with his defensive group, including playing premiership ruckman Ben McEvoy as a key back.
McEvoy started at full-back while Jon Ceglar was beaten in the ruck, but Clarkson said the Hawks wouldn't be binning that plan yet.
McEvoy this week could be tasked with stopping one of Richmond's premiership pair Jack Riewoldt and Tom Lynch.
"He's played in that role probably four times at AFL level and three of the games he's done particularly well and last week it didn't work for us," Clarkson said.
"That wasn't because of McEvoy – he actually didn't play terribly badly. Our midfield got smashed and the supply that went in there was overwhelming.
"But we played a really good side in Brisbane in round one and McEvoy played in that role and did really well.
"We'll see how it pans out over the course of the year but we're going to stick with it for a period of time and see how it goes."