THREE-TIME premiership star Jack Gunston is poised to return from injury to bolster a Hawthorn side chasing consecutive wins for the first time this AFL season.
But the welcome return of last year's Peter Crimmins medallist in Saturday's Marvel Stadium contest against St Kilda means impressive youngster Emerson Jeka will have to wait at least one more week to make his debut.
Veteran utility Shaun Burgoyne will also miss out after sustaining an ankle injury during the narrow victory over Adelaide in round six.
MEDICAL ROOM The full AFL injury list
Gunston had back surgery in December but has trained strongly over the past fortnight and completed the Hawks' light training session at Waverley Park on Friday.
The 29-year-old adds experience to the forward line alongside versatile Tim O'Brien and emerging talls Jacob Koschitzke and Mitch Lewis.
"We've been looking forward to (Gunston's) return for some time and if it happens to be this week then that will be a welcome addition to our side," Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson said on Friday.
"He's a very experienced player and gives our side a lot of polish and a lot of flexibility too.
"We've got a pretty young forward line and they're emerging quite well for us, those young guys.
"But just having some experience and support with Jack's presence there will be enormous assistance to those guys and our team."
Jeka, 19, has kicked 19 goals in four VFL matches with Box Hill this year and is edging closer to a senior call-up.
"He's had a really good summer and his last three or four games (have been impressive)," Clarkson said.
"It's just with Gunno coming back and Tim O'Brien and Koschitzke and also Lewis, sometimes it's just difficult to fit them all in."
Clarkson has been pleased with his side's ability to weather storms in wins over Adelaide and Essendon this season but is looking for more consistency in their performance against St Kilda.
"There's faith that we're never out of a game," he said.
"Nearly every game we've had (this season) we've had to fight back from a period of inconsistency when we've just been unable to compete for long enough.
"We're pleased that we're putting ourselves back in a position to fight out a game but we're disappointed in the first instance that we've allowed consecutive goals for them to get ahead."
St Kilda and Hawthorn will compete for the 22nd annual Blue Ribbon Cup, honouring the courage and sacrifice of all Australian police officers and those who have fallen in the line of duty.