HAWTHORN young gun Changkuoth Jiath is set to return form a month on the sidelines and join Brownlow Medallist Tom Mitchell on the flight to Launceston to face Brisbane on Sunday.

Jiath hasn’t played since the Easter Monday win over Geelong – the last time the Hawks won – suffering a hamstring injury at training ahead of the Anzac Day clash against Sydney. 

The 22-year-old needs to tick off the final stages of his rehab program at Waverley Park but is expected to be named for the clash against Brisbane at University of Tasmania Stadium.

With triple premiership forward Jack Gunston ruled out for at least the next fortnight after suffering an ankle injury against Richmond last Saturday, the Hawks will be boosted by the return of Mitchell

Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell said the star midfielder has returned to the club with some bounce after struggling to overcome the lingering effects of illness, which hampered him against Essendon in round eight before he was given last weekend off.

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"Tommy will definitely play and start in the centre bounce. We look forward to what he'll produce. He is already a little bit more vibrant and up and about," Mitchell said on Thursday morning. 

"He is a very important part of our team and midfield. We've been struggling a little bit in that area, so really looking forward to a bit of extra freshness into Tommy, hopefully he can produce his best footy. 

"He got sick and didn’t really get over it, then played and went into a hole after that. He just hadn’t been his normal energetic self; normally he is running around like a lunatic, always doing extras. It was a good idea to give him that circuit breaker."

Hawthorn is still assessing Ned Reeves to determine when he will be available next after the young ruckman dislocated his shoulder against the Cats a month ago. 

Mitchell said the club might explore adding another ruckman via the NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft on June 1 if Reeves can't prove his fitness by then, given the Hawks are down to just Max Lynch with captain Ben McEvoy still in a brace and dealing with a neck injury.

Ned Reeves at Hawthorn training on April 27, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

"He is going through a strengthening phase with his shoulder. Once you have a sublux incident you lose a bit of strength, so what he's needed is a six-week program to get as much strength back. Once he gets that back we'll assess whether it’s a risk for him to come back or if his strength is really strong and he is able to get back. He'll continue to be assessed," Mitchell said.

"It is still an unknown; he could play as early as next week; I don’t think that is completely out of line yet. But he may not get enough strength back for it to be safe for him to come back and play. Being with only one ruck available on the list at the moment, in terms of the mid-season draft that’s one of the options available."

Rebounding defender Will Day was deployed in the midfield against Richmond at the MCG last weekend in the next stage of his progression towards a full-time role in the middle, with the South Australian attending 12 centre bounces. 

Mitchell expects the 20-year-old to continue to spend more time in the midfield as Hawthorn looks to improve around the ball in the second half of the season – the Hawks are ranked 18th for clearances and 17th for first possessions. 

Will Day drives the ball forward for Hawthorn against Essendon in R8, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

"We've got a lot of half-backs and running defenders. If CJ comes back there is another one. Last week Will played wing and inside mid. We ended up using him in defence later in the game, but basically the whole game as a midfielder which was a good progression for him," he said.

"He didn’t set the world on fire, but he certainly has a different skillset. We need to continue to find out who is going to be a future premiership player for us and in what position they're going to play. 

"We are trying to build a premiership club and a team that regularly finishes in the top four. Will will be a significant part of that. in what position? We're not sure yet. We know he is improving every week."

Mitchell will meet Chris Fagan for the first time since replacing Alastair Clarkson as senior coach late last year. 

Fagan was an integral member of Hawthorn’s football department during its dynasty, heading the coaching and development at the club before becoming the head of football before he was lured north.