Hawthorn fans can expect to see a host of new faces when the club takes on Essendon on Saturday at the MCG.

Prized pick Nick Watson has been given the green light for an immediate debut after being taken in last year's draft.

 2024-03-16T02:45:00Z 
Essendon WON BY 24 POINTS
MCG
ESS   
107
FT
83
   HAW

Watson is set to be joined by former Collingwood forward Jack Ginnivan and Gold Coast's Mabior Chol in what will be a revamped Hawks forward line, according to AFL Media's Josh Gabelich.

The 18-year-old hasn't put a foot wrong in his first pre-season at AFL level, impressing both coaches and teammates.

Coach Sam Mitchell spoke on Watson's prospects heading into 2024, saying how "exciting" he is going to be this year and beyond.

"I'm torn between telling you that he is going to be an exciting young talent and also just hosing it down a little bit because he has just turned 19," Mitchell said to reporters on Thursday.

"I think with first-year players, even if they are enormously talented, there is (Nick) Daicos and he was ready for AFL footy straight away. But if you look at every other first-year player, there are some ups and downs in their journey.

"He is going to play some really good footy for this club, I don't think anyone doubts that, but is he going to play really well every single week and be a 50-goal first-year player? I hope so, but I wouldn't put that expectation on him.

"He has been nice and consistent on the training track. He kicks goals and puts on pressure. He has a good little mix. He is an exciting player."

Hawthorn-turned-Brisbane-turned-Hawthorn again forward Jack Gunston is also in the mix to don the brown and gold, joining great mate Luke Breust, Blake Hardwick and Dylan Moore inside 50.

Hardwick is set for a new role in 2024, with the club switching him to the attacking half for his intensity and pressure.

"It was a lengthy debate in match committee all week,” Mitchell said about Hardwick.

"We still have a couple of final decisions to make today. I think we'll definitely see Blake as a forward, whether that's for the whole game this week or for parts in the game or whether we just decide to settle him into the back half for the game.

"What we've been able to do is play him as a forward for a long enough that we're confident he can perform his role forward and back."

On the other end of the ground, former Essendon defender Massimo D'Ambrosio is likely to face his old side on Saturday.

Since coming across from the Bombers, D'Ambrosio has looked comfortable playing off the half backline for the Hawks over the pre-season and is in line for a debut.

Ethan Phillips, who was signed as a pre-season supplemental pick from Box Hill to cover the season-ending knee injury of James Blanck, is also in the mix to debut for the club.

Hawthorn is light on for key defenders with Blanck and Denver Grainger-Barras unavailable for some time, giving Phillips a look at playing AFL football.