HAWTHORN coach Alastair Clarkson wants swingman James Sicily to continue to play on the edge, insisting he doesn't need to talk to the 22-year-old about his on-field attitude.

Sicily's frustration got the better of him during Friday night's six-point win over the Swans at the MCG, with the forward-turned-defender giving away an unnecessary 50m penalty in the third term, to hand Lance Franklin his only goal for the match.

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As if that wasn't enough, Sicily continue to argue with the umpire over the decision, leaving retiring champion Luke Hodge to try to calm the young Hawk down twice.

It is the second week in the row Sicily's on-field behaviour has been called into question.

Last Saturday night against Fremantle, he had a verbal altercation with teammate Taylor Duryea, which raised eyebrows among fans and commentators.

Five talking points: Hawthorn v Sydney

"Sicily is still learning the game," Clarkson said after the win.

"I was really pleased because there were a couple of times he got right on the edge and where I thought he was going to lose it, [but he didn't]. He's just grown as a player and he's got some good guys around him who try to keep him out of strife when his temper flares a little bit.

"But guys that play on the edge like that sometimes they're going to go over the top, sometimes you've just got to keep them underneath the line but he's played some really important football for us in the last few weeks and he'll continue to learn about himself."

Despite his temper flaring in the third term, Sicily was instrumental for the Hawks in the second half, and finished among their best players.

He had 26 disposals and took 14 marks in what was an impressive display in defence.

Sicily, along with Kaiden Brand and Ryan Burton make up the bulk of a young backline for the Hawks led by Hodge, and another forward-turned-defender Jack Gunston.

Clarkson said the young defensive unit had made huge strides in the second half of the season.

"Those younger players are growing with confidence and are gaining a strong belief in themselves, great belief in one another and our plan," Clarkson said.

"Our plan is going okay at the moment given we've played some good sides in the last six weeks. We haven't won all of those games but we've been really really competitive in all of them."

The win over the Swans was the Hawks eighth for the season, and while they are still mathematically in contention for finals, it seems unlikely they will be able to finish inside the top eight.

Despite that slim hope, Clarkson said it would not change their plans with the potential returns of injured stars Grant Birchall and Cyril Rioli, with a call to be made on the pair in the next week.

Small forward Paul Puopolo and veteran defender Josh Gibson are set to return in the next fortnight, as is highly prized recruit Jaeger O'Meara.

While defender Ben Stratton has been ruled out of the season after having surgery two days ago on his injured knee.

The Hawks will need to win all four of their final matches, and then rely on other results falling their way, if they are to feature in September.

Clarkson said the side would continue to focus on finishing the season strongly.

"In terms of week to week this is a young group that's gaining some real belief and where it takes us I don’t know," he said.

"We're going to try and continue to win games of footy and the last five or six weeks we've gained enormous belief in one another and that can take you a long way when you've got that so who knows what's going to happen."

The Hawks face Richmond, North Melbourne, Carlton and the Western Bulldogs in their run home.