HAWTHORN star Chad Wingard has been hit with another soft tissue injury, hours after being given the green light to return to action against Greater Western Sydney on Sunday.
The two-time All-Australian was expected to face the Giants for the first time since dealing with a calf issue against Fremantle before the mid-season bye, but his frustrating season has continued.
AFL.com.au can reveal Wingard suffered a hamstring injury at training on Thursday and is expected to miss at least this weekend and the game against Adelaide at Marvel Stadium next Sunday at this stage, potentially even longer.
It is understood that the injury is more tightness related than a strain, but Wingard has been ruled out after undergoing scans late this afternoon.
The 28-year-old has struggled for continuity this season, dealing with calf issues across the first half of the season, as well as hamstring and ankle troubles.
Wingard has missed four games due to injury and was substituted out of the win over Port Adelaide in round two due to hamstring tightness, before his 200th game was delayed due to illness.
Hawthorn will have a clearer timeline on his return when the club returns from Sydney, but are hopeful Wingard will only miss two games.
The Hawks will be boosted by the return of All-Australian forward Jack Gunston and young gun Will Day this weekend.
After only managing one appearance in 2021 due to a debilitating back problem, Gunston has endured more injury headaches in the past couple of months, playing only once since injuring his ankle against Richmond in round 9, after re-injuring the same ankle in the four-point loss to Collingwood in round 12.
The three-time premiership forward ran out of time to prove his fitness for last Friday night’s game against the Western Bulldogs, but the 30-year-old has been cleared to make the trip to New South Wales.
Day has exited the AFL’s health and safety protocols and will face Mark McVeigh’s side on Sunday.
Like Wingard, Day has experienced a stop-start campaign due to concussion and ankle issues before COVID-19 ruled him out last weekend.
After starting a new era under Sam Mitchell with two consecutive wins, the Hawks have lost 10 of their past 12 to games to sit in 15th spot ahead of round 16, just below the Giants on percentage.
The Hawks' best has beaten premiership contenders Geelong and Brisbane – and pushed Melbourne, Fremantle and Carlton all the way – but they have struggled for consistency, falling badly to St Kilda, Gold Coast and the Western Bulldogs.
Hawthorn has turned to youth in 2022, handing debuts to five players – Josh Ward, Connor MacDonald, Sam Butler, Jackson Callow and James Blanck – and playing nine other players who had 20 games of experience or less heading into the season.
The Hawks will be aiming to win for the first time from six attempts at Giants Stadium on Sunday.