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Injury-hit Hawks catch a bad break

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Hawthorn’s injury-plagued preparation for their AFL premiership defence has continued, with speedster Brad Hill to miss at least a month of action after breaking his wrist.

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The enforced absence of Hill means that half a dozen members of the team which won a third straight flag last year will be absent when the Hawks take on Geelong in round one on Easter Monday.

Key forward Jarryd Roughead (knee) and midfielder Liam Shiels (wrist) are also on the injured list, ruckman David Hale and fullback Brian Lake have retired and Matthew Suckling has joined the Western Bulldogs.

The 22-year-old Hill was a key member of Hawthorn’s 2013-15 premiership teams and suffered the wrist injury in an intra-club match on Monday.

Meanwhile, Collingwood’s Ben Reid is ready to take on Sydney on Saturday night but coach Nathan Buckley says it won’t be up to the fit-again defender to curb the brilliance of Lance Franklin on his own.

Reid, 26, has been nursed through pre-season training with a calf issue but has put his hand up for selection in round one as he attempts to put two injury-riddled seasons behind him.

Franklin is returning to the field after he missed Sydney’s finals campaign to seek treatment for a mental health issue.

Buckley said that he was planning for Buddy’s best based on his pre-season form and that Reid would be one of a number of Magpies defenders charged with curbing the star forward’s influence.

“I think the idea of one-on-one footy is a bit archaic,” Buckley said yesterday.

“I would have thought that nearly all of our defenders and potentially our wingers would find themselves in a contest with Buddy Franklin at some stage of the game.

“But they’ll have five other forwards there as well.”

Reid has been plagued by soft-tissue injuries that have restricted him to just nine games in the past two seasons.

His availability is a huge boost for the Pies, who have 40 fit players vying for selection in the side to take on the Swans at the SCG.

“It’s a good position to be in,” the coach said.

“We haven’t been in this sort of shape for a long time.”

Former Geelong forward Travis Varcoe isn’t part of that group, however, after he suffered a minor hamstring injury at training on Monday.

Tyson Goldsack (knee) and Jeremy Howe (hand) are considered fit but will need to get more match fitness under their belts at VFL before pushing for senior selection.

Based on outside projections, Collingwood and Sydney are clubs headed in opposite directions this season, with the Pies a popular pick to return to the finals after a two-year absence and the ageing Swans forecast to slide down the ladder after contesting the past six finals series.

“They’re a very proud club, a very competitive side with a whole heap of talent spread across the field,” Buckley said.

“They’ve got some injuries at the moment but that won’t be at the forefront of our minds.

“We know that we’re in for a fight.”

-AAP

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