HAWTHORN coach Alastair Clarkson continues to avoid any public declaration of a potential finals assault, sticking to his longer-term vision of building a premiership-contending side.

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The Hawks have won three of their past four matches, and squandered an opportunity to beat Brisbane last week, kicking just 7.18 in the eventual 27-point defeat.

In fact, Hawthorn last kicked more goals than behinds in round 11 – at the start of June – also against the Lions, but it hasn't stopped Clarkson's men closing within a win and percentage of the top eight.

James Worpel and the Hawks remain on the cusp of qualifying for September. Picture: AFL Photos

"We haven't really been geared that way at all (thinking of finals) … and that doesn't change from round one to round 23," Clarkson said.

"We're trying to put the personnel and methodology together that will give us enough confidence that the steps we're taking are the ones in the right direction for us, in terms of building our next premiership side.

"If in that process of doing that you get enough wins and that has you qualifying for finals then great, but … it's not so much about the importance of this game to win it, because we have to give ourselves a chance."

It's been a consistent Clarkson theme throughout season 2019, with him placing greater value on exposing the likes of James Worpel and Mitch Lewis.

The four-time premiership coach also sees this final month, which could extend into September, as vital for high-profile recruit Chad Wingard and recently-returned defender Grant Birchall.

Birchall has played two of the last three games at senior level after missing the best part of two years recovering from repeat knee setbacks and more recently soft-tissue problems.

The Hawks' Friday night opponent, North Melbourne, is – in some ways, according to Clarkson – going through a similar process under caretaker coach Rhyce Shaw.

"They're not doing too dissimilar things to what we're doing. They're trying some younger players," Clarkson said.

"(Nick) Larkey's come into their side over the last eight to 10 weeks and has been doing some good things, and both sides are exploring with some personnel and a little bit with method.

"They've changed a little bit from (former coach) Brad (Scott) – that's going to be obvious. No two coaches will do things exactly the same.

"(But) whether Brad's been coaching the side, or Shawry's coaching the side, we know when we play North Melbourne it's going to be pretty fierce."

We haven't really been geared that way at all (thinking of finals) - Alastair Clarkson

Super-veteran Shaun Burgoyne will play his 373rd AFL game, officially breaking dual Brownlow medallist Adam Goodes' record for the most matches by an indigenous player.

The former Port Adelaide star appears increasingly likely to go on next season despite preparing to turn 37 years old in October.

"He's played for two clubs that are highly decorated clubs and it's no coincidence he's been part of success at both clubs, because he's been such a pivotal influence at both football clubs," Clarkson said.

"(This milestone) is a celebration for the game … it's a celebration for indigenous people and the influence they've had on Australian Rules football, particularly in the last 20 or 30 years.

"Shaun's been playing nearly most of that time. It's also a celebration for his two clubs, but more importantly, it's a celebration for his immediate family that have supported him …

"That influence over a long period of time is why he's held in such high respect in the game – not just by Hawthorn or Port Adelaide people, but those from opposition clubs as well."

A decision on Tim O'Brien's availability would be made after Thursday's training session after he was a late withdrawal last week because of a calf injury.

Jack Scrimshaw (knee) is edging closer to returning, but Clarkson said it would be at VFL level when that happens.

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