FREMANTLE will shift Jesse Hogan into a surprise defensive role in his impending return from injury, as the Dockers seek to cover the loss of important key-position duo Alex Pearce and Joel Hamling for the rest of the season.
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Hogan, a consistent goalkicker across his seven-year, 86-game AFL career, is yet to be trialled in a defensive role at senior level for either Melbourne or Fremantle, but returned from a calf strain in the backline during a scratch match on Monday.
The Dockers have finally confirmed that neither Pearce nor Hamling will play this year due to respective ankle injuries, while the club is unlikely to regain fellow key defender Griffin Logue from a toe problem before season's end.
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"We're going to look to play him back. He's committed to playing back. We're undersized in our backline, so he wants to do it and he's put his hand up to do it," Dockers coach Justin Longmuir said.
"How long it takes to up-skill him to play in our backline, we'll have to wait and see. But he's had some minutes in the reserves today and executed some stuff pretty well, so we'll look at that."
An undermanned Fremantle backline kept Hawthorn to just four goals in a relatively comfortable 16-point win at Optus Stadium on Monday night, with defensive duo Brennan Cox and Luke Ryan among the best in the victory.
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However, Hogan's impending inclusion following a five-match absence due to a calf injury is sure to provide the Dockers with a much-needed boost, even if the club believes his future still remains in the forward line.
"His footy smarts are first-class. He's got a high footy IQ and he's got some height, which is a bonus," Longmuir said.
"He's got a good ability to read the play, so given our situation with our backline and the players we've got out it's worth giving him a crack.
"I think it's just while the defenders are out at this stage. I still see him as a really valuable commodity for us up forward, so it's probably a short-term fix at this stage."
Longmuir said Travis Colyer would miss at least two weeks with a suspected minor hamstring strain, while Connor Blakely would be assessed after playing out the game despite a third-quarter injury to his right shoulder.
Hawthorn's slim finals chances took a significant blow as a result of the disappointing defeat, with the Hawks now two games from the top eight following a fifth defeat in six matches.
With attention and criticism being heaped upon the club's list profile and its reluctance to blood youth in recent years, Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson suggested a host of untried youngsters could soon earn their opportunity.
"We're slowly bringing guys into the side. Will Day played his fourth game tonight and acquitted himself well again, James Worpel is really just a third-year player and is still learning the ropes, Jack Scrimshaw is a young player finding his way at AFL level," Clarkson said after the match.
"We've got some lads that have been playing well at the level below. We need to give those guys an opportunity in the next week or two and we'll see where it goes from there.
"We don't want to make wholesale change to our side, because our philosophy has been that they need to play with experienced and mature bodies to help them grow and learn the craft of the game.
"There will be some that say that's not the right philosophy, but it's been ours for a long time and it's worked OK for us. But just at the minute, while things aren't going so well in win-loss, the philosophy can be challenged."
Veteran wingman Isaac Smith's night ended in the second quarter with a shoulder injury and Clarkson said it was likely he would spend some time on the sidelines.