HAWTHORN won't risk captain Luke Hodge against Fremantle on Friday night, but Sam Mitchell is all-but certain to return for the reigning premiers.

Hodge had been trying to prove his fitness for the Grand Final rematch after hurting his groin in the third quarter against Essendon last week.

"He's got a pretty minor ailment and he's been banging the door down trying to tell us that he's OK, but we're better off just taking a week," Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson said on Thursday.

"We think he's probably nearly right to play, but it's just too early in the season to take risks.

"He's a warrior and he's captain of the club and wants to get out there and play as often as he can, but we just think it's better off he has a rest and get him right for next week."

Mitchell has seemingly recovered from a calf complaint, which saw him withdrawn late from the Bombers clash.

The former skipper looked unrestricted during the Hawks' 30-minute training session on Thursday morning, suggesting he will take his place in the 22 to face Fremantle.

In more positive injury news for the Hawks, veteran Brad Sewell (hamstring) and centre half-back Ben Stratton (hamstring/calf) are set to play in the VFL for Box Hill against Werribee on Saturday.

"They haven’t had a lot of game time, so we just need to get some game conditioning into those legs," Clarkson said.

And key defender Ryan Schoenmakers will make his long-awaited comeback from a knee reconstruction for Box Hill.

"(It's) his first game back for nearly 12 months, so that's exciting for our club that those three are back in the fold again," Clarkson said.

"They'll build some match-conditioning over the next week or two and we'll make a decision on when we'll try to get them back into our senior side." 

Schoenmaker's and Stratton's AFL returns can't come soon enough for Hawthorn.

The Hawks have been under-sized in defence in the opening rounds, although Kyle Cheney and Josh Gibson have battled manfully on Brisbane and Essendon's power forwards.

It was hoped full-back Brian Lake would slot back into the senior team next round after serving his three-game suspension from the Grand Final.

However, Clarkson confirmed on Thursday the Norm Smith medallist has a calf concern which will delay his return to AFL ranks.

"He's just had a little bit of a calf complaint that's just upset his preparation, so he's another one that's going to need some match fitness," Clarkson said.

"As it was, it was going to be a challenge for us even if he didn't have a little bit of a hiccup to whether we'd bring him in round four with not much match conditioning.

"So this will at least allow us to give him some game time with Box Hill. Whether that's one week or two weeks…that will probably start next week I'd imagine, but it might not, it might be the week after.

"We'll just get some game time into him before we make a decision on when he returns to our senior side."

Fremantle has its own concerns heading into the clash at the MCG.

Star midfielders Nat Fyfe (suspended) and Michael Barlow (knee) will miss multiple games, while full-back Zac Dawson is also out of the Hawks game with a one-week ban for tripping.

Friday night's winner will move to a perfect 3-0 start to the season.
Clarkson admitted the Hawks needed to find another gear to match the Dockers, who have so far cruised to big wins over finals contenders Collingwood and Gold Coast.
"They're going well, they're playing some good footy and we weren't so good last week," Clarkson said.
"They're playing better footy than we are at the present time, in terms of the form line over the last two to three weeks.
"If that applies again tomorrow night they will probably be going home with four points on the plane on Saturday.
"But we think we can play a bit better than what we did the last week or two and if we can then we give ourselves a really good chance of winning."