HAWTHORN coach Alastair Clarkson has put his experienced players on notice that they will be replaced by younger options if the Hawks don't snap out of their losing funk soon.
Clarkson's men have comprehensively lost their past three games after an impressive 3-1 start and have failed to score 50 points in that period.
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Triple premiership forward Paul Puopolo has already lost his spot, while the likes of captain Ben Stratton and Tom Scully are also feeling the heat.
Even 37-year-old Shaun Burgoyne has cooled off significantly since a strong start to the season.
"We can't continue on losing like this," Clarkson said.
"We're backing in our senior guys but at some point in time there needs to be a changing of the guard if the senior guys don't perform.
"But you've got to understand this club and me personally and these players have got a pretty decorated history with the club … so they need to be given an opportunity to perform.
"That will only go so far before we say we need to inject some more young talent into our group."
The Hawks have begun to drip feed some younger footballers into their side, with Will Day – who looks a top-notch prospect – Josh Morris and Harry Jones making their AFL debut in the past few weeks.
Ex-Saint Darren Minchington also played his first match for Hawthorn last week.
Saturday night's opponent, Sydney, is also struggling, having dropped four games on the trot but will regain key forward Sam Reid from a calf injury.
Interestingly, Reid played on new Hawk and former Bomber Michael Hartley in an engaging duel in a practice game last weekend, so the latter might be an option to be called up.
Clarkson and co. also have decisions to make on defender Jarman Impey (knee), who's played two scratch matches since returning from a year on the sidelines, and ruckman Jon Ceglar (toe).
"He's certainly in the mix and it'll depend on training and his body," Clarkson said of Impey.
"He's spent a long period of time out of the game. We just want to make sure he's absolutely cherry ripe.
"We'll wait and see whether or not he needs another week in the scrimmage game we play against GWS, or whether he plays in the game against Sydney on Saturday night."
Young defender Jack Scrimshaw has also recovered from his ankle complaint and is available for selection.
However, Clarkson also called for perspective on his side's performances.
He pointed to his experiences of assistant Brett Ratten losing his son, Cooper, in a car accident, retired champion Jarryd Roughead twice being diagnosed with cancer, and this week's loss of Shane Tuck.
"There are lots of things that go on in life and everyone's making three losses in a row sound like it's the most catastrophic thing that's ever happened in the game," Clarkson said.
"We need to play better footy and we're not shying away from that but we've been through much more challenging things than this."