ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: Jarryd Roughead of the Hawks looks on during the round one AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the Hawthorn Hawks at Adelaide Oval on March 23, 2019 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson has left a question mark over the future of former captain Jarryd Roughead’s place in the side, saying he’s not sure when his next game will be.

Roughead was dropped for the first time in years this weekend, with Clarkson telling the media on Friday it was a tough decision to make.

“It’s always tough. He’s been a staple player of this footy club for 15 years,” Clarkson said.

“But there’s a time where everyone’s form and critiquing of that form is going to be subject to whether or not they’re playing their role well enough to stay in the side.

“Rough, by his own admission, (wasn’t playing well). We’d had these conversations as far back as the middle of last year.

“We were looking at this year and what it meant, and understanding full well a significant part of the legacy he can leave for our footy club is preparing our club for post-Jarryd Roughead and the emergence of younger players like Conor Nash and Mitchy Lewis and these sorts of guys.”

However, when Clarkson was asked about Roughead’s future in the Hawks’ best 22, he couldn’t guarantee a return date for the 32-year-old.

“I’d be hopeful that he’ll play some footy, but is that next week, is that the week after, is it never again? I don’t know,” Clarkson said.

“All we do know, he knows, you know, I know, that he’s in the backend of his career and last week could have been his last game for the footy club, but I’d hope that’s not the case, because he’s still got 15 games to go.

“But whatever happens in the next 15 games, he’s got a significant contribution to make to our footy club – no matter whether he plays seniors or at Box Hill. That’s really all we’re really searching for.

“As I said before, the real key element of this is not what’s best for Jarryd Roughead or Alastair Clarkson or any of the other players – it’s what’s best for the club.”