NORTH Melbourne is hopeful gun midfielder Ben Cunnington will return from his back injury for Sunday's clash with Hawthorn, with the ball-winner needing to pass Thursday's fitness test to be available.
Cunnington was pulled out of last week's loss to Sydney with the back issue, but North football boss Brady Rawlings said the Roos are "reasonably confident" the 28-year-old would face the Hawks on Sunday night.
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"He's pulled up OK this week," Rawlings said on Wednesday.
"We'll [give] him a light run tomorrow and give him every opportunity to play this week so hopefully Ben's available for selection following that sore back last week."
Cunnington could be among a handful of changes after the Roos dropped their first game of the season last week, with Marley Williams and potential debutant Jack Mahony also in contention.
North coach Rhyce Shaw said the Roos would need to bounce back at Marvel Stadium on Sunday night after being overrun in the second half last week.
"We were really disappointed with the way we went about it against the Swannies. We didn't give ourselves the best chance," he said.
"We started really well and it looked like everything was rosy, but in actual fact we just didn't give ourselves the best chance and didn't have the intensity.
"We went through it pretty clearly over the last couple of days and we know how to rectify that."
The Roos have been contemplating switching their training groups of players after the competition was hit by its first COVID-19 positive test on the weekend with Essendon's Conor McKenna.
That led to a change in the AFL's rules, with clubs not permitted to have contact training sessions for groups of more than nine players.
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"It's certainly a challenge," Shaw said.
"We're pretty across what it actually looks like and have been discussing this morning how we work best to get our players best prepared for the weekend and also maintain the contact sessions and working around the full group non-contact.
"But we've got to be flexible and adapt."
In further good news for the Roos, Majak Daw is also likely to play in the club's scratch match this week after making a speedy recovery from his pectoral tear.
"If he gets through training this weekend he'll be available for minutes in our practice match against the Hawks," Rawlings said.
On Wednesday, the AFL announced the start time for Sunday's Roos v Hawks clash at Marvel Stadium has been pushed back from 6.05pm to 6.10pm.