Ben Stratton of the Hawks and Luke Parker of the Swans compete for the ball during the 2016 AFL Round 09 match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Sydney Swans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on May 20, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Hawks duo set to return for Cats clash

The Hawks are set to regain Ben McEvoy and Ben Stratton for Friday night’s blockbuster qualifying final against Geelong at the MCG.

Ruckman McEvoy was a late withdrawal from Hawthorn’s side in Round 23 with a back complaint, while Stratton has not played since injuring his pectoral muscle in Round 20.

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But defender Josh Gibson expects both players to be named in the side to face Geelong.

“Yeah, they should be fine,” Gibson said.

“They are out there (training on Tuesday), I’m sure they will get through today, and (will be) all good for Friday.”

“They are both important pieces in the cog. We have still managed to play some good footy without them, but … it will be good to have them back.”

Meanwhile Geelong is sweating on the fitness of key defender Lachie Henderson, after he underwent minor knee surgery after Geelong’s Round 22 win over Brisbane at the Gabba.

Lachie Henderson of the Cats celebrates after the Cats defeated the Eagles during the round seven AFL match between the Geelong Cats and the West Coast Eagles at Simonds Stadium on May 7, 2016 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
Lachie Henderson of the Cats celebrates after the Cats defeated the Eagles during the round seven AFL match between the Geelong Cats and the West Coast Eagles at Simonds Stadium on May 7, 2016 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

But coach Chris Scott remains optimistic that Henderson can return this week.

“The signs are looking good, we’re optimistic and there is still a little bit of time so we’ll give him every chance,” Scott said.

“But I’ve said publicly already that we don’t have any real interest in putting him out there unless we’re absolutely certain he can perform.

“We’re pretty confident that we’ve got good options to replace him, so at this early stage in a finals series it would be crazy to go in wondering if he’s OK.

“We generally don’t do that anyway so for a really big game like this when we have pretty good replacements. If he plays you can be certain that he’s ready.”

 

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