Hawthorn vice-captain Jaeger O’Meara is a strong chance to return in Thursday night’s AFL clash with reigning premiers Richmond.
The midfielder suffered a minor fracture above his eye in the Hawks’ first full-contact training session on May 25 back from the COVID-19 shutdown and missed last week’s defeat to Geelong.
He will train on Tuesday and coach Alastair Clarkson said he was confident of being given clearance from club medical staff for O’Meara to play against the Tigers.
“We’re reasonably comfortable that will be the case,” Clarkson said.
“We just need to get the final tick-off later this morning.”
If cleared, O’Meara will be an important inclusion for a Hawthorn midfield that Clarkson conceded was “smacked” by Geelong after halftime.
In the second half at GMHBA Stadium, the Hawks lost contested ball by 31, clearances by 18 and ground balls by 31 – the worst differential since 2018.
“We got smacked around the ball last week and we need to be a lot better in that space,” Clarkson said.
“But that wasn’t just personnel, a lot of it was to do with method and intent.
“Whether Jaeger returns or not, we’d expect that our resolve in that part of the ground needs to be stronger than what it was.”
Hawthorn have lost their past four matches against Richmond over the past three seasons, coinciding with the Tigers’ period of premiership success.
Clarkson expected a midfield led by Tom Mitchell, James Worpel and Shaun Burgoyne to bounce back and give the Hawks a chance to turn their fortunes around at the MCG.
“These guys are proud players and I’d expect some sort of response,” Clarkson said.
“We need a response, to be fair.
“We’re coming up against the premier team from last year and the most dominant side of the last three years.
“If we’re not strong in that space then we’re in for a pretty horrid night.”
Richmond enter the contest seeking their first win since the AFL season restart after their low-scoring draw with Collingwood.