HAWTHORN young gun Will Day is in contention to play his first senior game since June last year after the classy defender ticked off another key test in his recovery from ankle surgery.
The 20-year-old was expected to miss up to the first month of the season, but is now in the discussion to make a swift return for round two after playing three quarters for Box Hill in a practice match against North Melbourne on Sunday.
Day looked composed with ball in hand and covered the ground well at Arden Street, banking some much needed minutes after a frustrating pre-season.
The Hawks will monitor how Day recovers across the next 48 hours and make an assessment on his level of match conditioning before match committee meets on Thursday ahead of Saturday night's clash against Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval.
Hawthorn may err on the side of caution and provide Day with a full game against Collingwood's VFL side at Victoria Park this Sunday, rather than play him at AFL level off a six-day break, although there is a belief he can slot straight into Sam Mitchell’s side despite the less than ideal preparation.
The No. 13 pick from the 2019 NAB AFL Draft endured a challenging second season in the AFL in 2021, adding only five appearances around two ankle injuries, ultimately requiring surgery and ending his season after round 15.
Day took longer to recover than Hawthorn's medical department first hoped over the summer and didn’t start training with the main group this pre-season until only a few weeks ago.
The sensational return of dashing defender Changkuoth Jiath against North Melbourne in Sunday's round one win over the Kangaroos could sway the match committee inside Waverley Park to pull the trigger on Day after one practice match, just like they did last week with the young gun who inherited the famous No. 9 most recently worn by Shaun Burgoyne and Shane Crawford.
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Jiath pressed his claims for a round one berth nine days out from the season opener after playing a full game in the VFL against Frankston, in his return from the PCL injury that ended his 2021 campaign in July.
The 22-year-old polled the equal most coaches' votes with James Sicily in the 20-point win over David Noble's side, polling eight votes after collecting 24 disposals and nine intercepts in just his 24th game of league football.
Hawthorn enjoyed substantial output from returning players in round one, with Sicily picking up where he left off in his first game since round 12, 2020, amassing 27 disposals and 538 metres gained.
All-Australian forward Jack Gunston starred in his first appearance since the opening round of 2021, kicking 3.4 from 18 disposals and eight marks.
New recruit Max Lynch will miss the trip to Adelaide this weekend after his brown and gold debut ended prematurely due to concussion, while young gun Josh Ward has been cleared of any injury concerns following a strong outing in his first game.
Hawthorn captain Ben McEvoy and two-time All-Australian Luke Breust will be available to face the Power after exiting health and safety protocols.
With the return of Jiath last weekend and the imminent return of Day, Hawthorn has an impressive array of weapons behind the ball, including Blake Hardwick and Jack Scrimshaw, as well as recently re-signed top-ten pick Denver Grainger-Barras.