MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 16: James Sicily of the Hawks celebrates a goal during the AFLX match between Hawthorn Hawks and St.Kilda Saints at Etihad Stadium on February 16, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Star Hawthorn defender James Sicily is on track to return for the Hawks at the start of the new season after suffering an ACL injury in the back end of 2020.

The booming right-footer missed the entire 2021 season as he recovered from the serious injury but was back at training as Hawthorn's senior players returned for pre-season.

New coach Sam Mitchell said Sicily was tracking nicely and would be ready to play this weekend if there was a game, however with there still being some time before any games are played, the club was taking a cautious approach.

"He's got a great presence on the track," Mitchell told media.

"He'd be available to play if we were playing this week. We're not in too much of a rush with getting him to do everything but certainly, he's ready to go.

"Even just at the end of training, when everyone's fatigued- he keeps missing a certain type of kick and he's asking 'why am I missing that?' And 'how can I improve that?"

Mitchell said that the often polarising Sicily had been working closely with assistant coach Chris Newman over the past year and believes that the year off may end up serving as a blessing in disguise.

"If you look at the last 12 months when he spent a lot of time with Chris Newman, our defensive coach," Mitchell said.

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"I think that the one step back and three steps forward that comes from missing a season is what we're going to get from 'Sis' this year."

Upon his return, Mitchell confirmed that the 26-year-old would be deployed in defence. The first-year coach admitted a leadership role was a possibility but that it wasn't a topic he and his staff had broached just yet.

"He's played his best footy in defence," Mitchell stated.

"(He) is most confident in defence. Chris Newman likes him in defence. His teammates like him there."

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"We'll spend the next few weeks setting some new standards and making some cultural changes around the place and we'll see how that evolves. We'll use Leading Teams and Ray McLean heavily in that space," he said.

Surrounded by a very fresh and new-look coaching group, Mitchell says that having so many good people from different experiences will bode well for the developing Hawthorn list.

"Those three all come from different clubs and bring different skill sets," he said.

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"The most exciting thing for us is that they've all brought a lot of different ideas.

"When we sit together and discuss how things can be done, there's a lot of people from a lot of different places and my job is to be able to filter that to get the best plan possible."

"I've really loved this coaching group, it's been fantastic. Chris Newman and Andy Otten have been here the last few years and they bring some group experience and they understand where a lot of the players have come from.

"Then you get Andy Collins who I worked with closely at Box Hill last year, he brings an enormous amount of experience. You've got the "Triple H", (Adrian) Hickmott, (Robert) Harvey and (David) Hale. They've all brought a lot of different ideas and are more than happy to throw around their ideas."