HAWTHORN ruckman Jonathon Ceglar's slim chances of a earning a recall for next Friday night's preliminary final against Fremantle have taken a hit after he withdrew from the VFL with illness.
Ceglar was named in the Box Hill side to face Sandringham in the preliminary final but pulled out on the morning of the game.
His withdrawal initially sparked speculation he was being rested ahead of the Hawks' trip to Perth, and could be a surprise inclusion for either David Hale or Ben McEvoy.
However Hawthorn confirmed to AFL.com.au that Ceglar was not being rested and was instead battling a bout of gastro.
While Ceglar was sidelined, 2014 premiership midfielder Will Langford was the hero in Box Hill's seven-point win at North Port Oval on Saturday.
Langford was omitted from the senior Hawthorn side, but pushed his case for a recall in the VFL, kicking the winning goal for Box Hill.
Langford, along with midfielders Brendan Whitecross (32 disposals), Jonathan Simpkin (34 disposals) and defenders Matt Spangher (nine marks) and Kurt Heatherley stood up when the game was in the balance.
Forward James Sicily was impressive in attack, kicking three goals, while small forward Jed Anderson kicked two.
All hope is not lost for Ceglar, who still has one final chance to prove himself when Box Hill plays the VFL Grand Final on Sunday, September 27.
Should Hawthorn beat Fremantle and win through to a fourth consecutive Grand Final, Ceglar still has a chance of a recall, in particular if their opponent is West Coast.
Not only does the former Magpie loom as a more athletic match-up against Eagles ruckman Nic Naitanui, but the Hawks also have a history of changing their ruck combination late in the season.
In 2008, ruckman Simon Taylor was rested after round 21 for Brent Renouf, but was unable to reclaim his place in the side for the finals series despite playing 18 games that year.
Last year, Ceglar was dropped for the Grand Final after playing in the Hawks' qualifying and preliminary finals wins, with McEvoy taking his place.
McEvoy – who, as a Saint, was dropped for the 2010 Grand Final against Collingwood before earning a recall for the replay – admitted on Saturday that he empathised with Ceglar, but was confident he wouldn't be losing his spot in the senior side.
"Yeah I do [feel for him] but at the same time I can't worry too much about what else is going on," he said.
"I just worry about playing my role and trying to get the win each week, and hopefully I do my part."
"I know that if I perform to the level I can then I'm a valuable contributor to the team and I'll stay in there."