Published by Ben Waterworth, 4 September 2018 on foxsports.com.au
VETERAN Hawthorn defender Grant Birchall will definitely not return to the senior line-up for Thursday night’s qualifying final against Richmond after suffering a “minor” setback.
The 30-year-old had been pushing hard for an unlikely late-season comeback in recent weeks, with plans originally in place for him to play limited game time in Box Hill’s elimination final last weekend.
However Birchall didn’t face Port Melbourne after injuring his adductor in the lead-up to the game.
And the Hawks confirmed on Tuesday night that Birchall would miss another one or two weeks.
“Grant has had a number of muscle overload issues since returning to skills training,” Hawthorn high performance director Andrew Russell told the club’s website.
“The adductor strain is minor and he should be available in the next one to two weeks.”
Birchall has played in just five of the Hawks’ past 44 games due to a nagging knee issue, which saw the club book him in for surgery during the pre-season.
While the Hawks will be without Birchall for Thursday night’s clash, the backline should still be boosted by the returns of James Sicily and James Frawley
Sicily missed the final six matches of the home and away season due to a broken scaphoid. But the star defender is likely to slot straight back into the 22-man side for Thursday night after making a full recovery.
Frawley was missed the Round 23 clash against Sydney due to a jarred back, but should be picked for the clash against the Tigers.
The other inclusion could be midfielder Dan Howe, who has served his five-game suspension and impressed in the VFL last weekend.