MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 2: Jack Gunston of the Hawks celebrates a goal during the 2018 AFL round 02 match between the Geelong Cats and the Hawthorn Hawks at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on April 2, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Hawthorn's pre-season preparations are set to be buoyed by the return of injured trio James Sicily, Jack Gunston and Will Day.

The Hawks' first to fourth-year players have already hit the track ahead of Sam Mitchell's first campaign in charge of his former club, having taken over the senior coaching duties from four-time premiership coach Alastair Clarkson.

Currently working through a list rebuild, Hawthorn are sure to have seen an extensive turnout in their opening sessions this month given the youthful demographic of their list.

More senior players are set to link up with their younger cohort early next month, with Sicily eyeing a return from an ACL injury sustained in August last year.

LAUNCESTON, AUSTRALIA - MAY 25: James Sicily of the Hawks runs with the ball during the round 10 AFL match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Port Adelaide Power at University of Tasmania Stadium on May 25, 2019 in Launceston, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

The star Hawk missed the entire 2021 campaign due to the setback, while Gunston and Day were limited to one and five games respectively.

Speaking on 3AW, Hawks football boss Rob McCartney revealed Sicily is primed for the new year after undergoing over 12 months of rehabilitation.

“He’s travelling really well. We’re back December 6th for the full squad and he’ll definitely be joining in full skills training at that time,” he said.

“If we were a side that maybe was looking to play deep in finals, we might have asked the question at the end of last year.

“He’s pretty excited, he wants to get back and build on what was starting to be a blossoming and fruitful career."

Gunston and Day had their season brought to a close in July after the club decided not to risk rushing the pair back from their recoveries.

After requiring back surgery in December last year, Gunston didn't feature for the Hawks until Round 7, which would be his only appearance for the year due to further setbacks.

Day missed Rounds 3-12 due to an ankle injury, which he further damaged in Round 15 to end his season short.

Jack Gunston during the round 19 AFL match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Carlton Blues at Aurora Stadium on July 30, 2016 in Launceston, Australia.

McCartney revealed that the duo are set to join Sicily in returning to training prior to the new year.

"[Gunston]'s back into some high-speed running, will do some skills work before the Christmas break, they’re two pretty important players to us,” McCartney said.

“Sicily didn’t play last year and Jack played one game. We think that’s going to give us a nice little boost and young Will Day is another one, he only played five games.

“Each game he played in his second year he looked like he was going to develop as a real talent within our club and we’re looking forward to him playing a lot more football as well.”

AFL Rd 11 - Fremantle v Hawthorn
PERTH, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 10: Will Day of the Hawks in action during the round 11 AFL match between the Fremantle Dockers and the Hawthorn Hawks at Optus Stadium on August 10, 2020 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Will Russell/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

The Hawks managed a 14th placed finish in 2021 with a 7-2-13 record, a placing that gave the club another top draft selection.

Hawthorn were able to select Northern Knights midfielder Josh Ward with Pick 7, while also acquiring highly-rated trio Sam Butler, Connor MacDonald and Jai Serong on the second night of the National Draft.

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