HAWTHORN coach Alastair Clarkson believes Dayle Garlett is still a chance to play AFL football.

Garlett quit the Hawks on Monday after struggling with the demands of the elite level.

Clarkson was disappointed the 20-year-old walked away from the club, and hoped he would rediscover his passion for football.

"It's been a really tough battle for Dayle. Hopefully he can just go back to play in the WAFL this year and rekindle his desire and commitment to play the game," Clarkson said.

"We didn't feel like (recruiting him) was a significant gamble.

"It hasn't worked out on this occasion, but he's not lost to AFL footy either. 

"I think he can still give himself a chance to play in the years ahead.

"Hopefully he gets another chance at the end of this year."

Clarkson's bigger concern is Friday's blockbuster against bitter rivals Essendon.

Shutting down Essendon's twin towers in attack - 201cm Joe Daniher and 198cm Jake Carlisle - looms as a key for Hawthorn.

If, as expected, the tough assignment falls to Hawks defenders Kyle Cheney (187cm) and Josh Gibson (189cm), they will give away a massive height advantage.

"They’re talented forwards and they're tall, but I reckon in nearly every game that we've gone into in the last four years – ever since 'Croady' (Trent Croad) retired really, at the end of '09 – we've gone in with an undersized defence and we've been able to cope OK with that," Clarkson said.

"We'll go in as an undersized defence again tomorrow night, so that's no different for us and we'll do our best.

"If we can get the ball to ground level and stop those marking players catching it then we give ourselves a chance to be able to defend their inside 50s, but if we can't we're going to battle." 

The Hawks and the Bombers are aiming for perfect 2-0 starts to the season.

Hawthorn has had the wood over Essendon recently, winning the past four meetings by an average of 58 points.

But Clarkson is wary of the Dons' high-possession game-plan under new coach Mark  Thompson, who plotted a 39-point dismantling of North Melbourne last Friday night.

"I hadn't seen Essendon play – I don’t think many had – a game like they played last week," Clarkson said.

"There's a bit of the old 'Bomber' [Thompson] and Geelong in the way that they want to set up and play.

"If we allow them to have that much access to the footy this week then we're probably going to come out with a loss against our name, I'd reckon."