ALASTAIR Clarkson and Hawthorn's brains trust will weigh up the impact of this year's unusual circumstances on the club's performance before making major list decisions.
The four-time premiership coach on Friday again pointed to his side's 3-1 start to this year and the fact it won six of the last eight games last season.
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The Hawks have since lost nine of their past 10 matches – all outside Victoria – as they've moved from quarantine hubs in NSW, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia.
"We think we've got a core group that can help us jump back up the ladder," Clarkson said.
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"But we're going to need, for a whole range of reasons, some other players – whether they're young or whether they're traded players, free agency players – to improve our list.
"Right at the present time, it's quite obvious our list isn't strong enough to compete at the upper echelon of the ladder, but we don't think we're a side that is miles away from being able to compete, either."
The decision Hawthorn makes post-season will be watched with interest, given the club's locked away most of its best players, leaving a mix of veterans and younger prospects among the 20-odd unsigned footballers.
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Jack Scrimshaw is the No.1 re-signing priority, but the Hawks must choose whether to retain Shaun Burgoyne, James Frawley, Isaac Smith, Ben Stratton, Ricky Henderson and Paul Puopolo.
They provisionally own this year's No.3 draft pick and will be able to match any offer on Next Generation Academy product Connor Downie, who could receive a bid within the top 30.
Asked if he was excited about having such a high selection, Clarkson instead discussed how they'd used first-round picks in recent years to bring in Chad Wingard, Tom Mitchell and Jaeger O'Meara.
It remains to be seen whether Hawthorn will spend the final three rounds giving more lightly played kids a look, such as father-son choice Finn Maginness, Mathew Walker, Dylan Moore, Damon Greaves and Jackson Ross.
"There's no club in the competition that plays all 47 on their list," Clarkson said.
"We have been putting some younger players through our side as the need arises, in terms of injury and compressed games."
Jaeger O'Meara (hand) could play against St Kilda on Sunday, but Clarkson said there was a chance neither he nor Isaac Smith (shoulder) appeared again in 2020.