Hawthorn have been dealt a major blow to their 2024 AFL season preparations after scans confirmed top young talent Will Day has suffered a stress fracture.
The 22-year-old developed some discomfort at training on Wednesday and left the track early before heading off to be examined.
Hawks fitness boss Peter Burge said the club will now assess how best to move forward.
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“Will felt some discomfort during training, so we sent him off for scans, where they unfortunately showed a stress fracture in his foot,” Burge said.
“He’ll spend at least the next few weeks in a moon boot while we further assess the injury and determine the timeline for recovery. During this time period, we will also consult with specialists to ensure we develop the best rehabilitation program for Will.
“Will is a young player that is going to have a long future at our football club, so we will be conservative in our approach to get him back on the field.”
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Day had a breakout year in 2023, claiming his first Peter Crimmins medal as the Hawks’ best player.
He was a shining light in what was an otherwise ordinary year for Hawthorn in the win-loss column, despite showing significant promise at times throughout the year.
Will Day has been sidelined by injury. Credit: Hawthorn
Many are bullish on Sam Mitchell’s side being one of the big improvers in 2024 on the back of a young brigade, led by Day, that also includes Jai Newcombe, James Worpel, Changkuoth Jiath, Conor Nash, Dylan Moore, Josh Ward, Cam McKenzie and the club’s prized No.5 selection in last year’s draft Nick Watson.
But they have begun their pre-season without training under the watchful eye of the senior coach Mitchell, who is stuck in New York recovering from a serious case of pneumonia that saw him hospitalised for Christmas.
The club is hopeful Mitchell will return on Monday as he continues his recovery.
The 41-year-old was discharged before the new year and is set to finally return to Australia in the coming days.
Players returned to pre-season training on Wednesday without their coach on the sideleines.
GM of football Rob McCartney praised Mitchell’s family for their support and also revealed current board member Anne-Marie Pellizzer and former board member Andrew Kaye played crucial roles in New York.
Mitchell remains in New York after the serious health scare. Credit: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images
“I actually spoke with him as the boys were training today — he’s going well, the vibrance is back in his voice,” McCartney said.
“He’s definitely on the improve, and part of that is making sure that he does get that time to recover and be that person he was before Christmas when he left.
“We were concerned obviously because he was in a foreign country, we couldn’t provide the same level of support which we probably could if he was here in Melbourne.
“We were really lucky that we’ve got a current board member in Anne-Marie Pellizzer and a former board member in Andrew Kaye who played quite a significant role in mobilising the right support on the ground in New York, so we were comfortable once we had those things in place.
“His wife Lyndall did an amazing job in caring for Sam while he was in hospital, but while also managing three kids over in New York.
“We want to make sure that we continue to provide that great care that Lyndall did when he was away, when he gets back.”
As the club revealed earlier in the week, Mitchell will likely make a staggered return, starting Monday in a limited capacity.
“We expect him to be back in our program early on Monday, but he won’t spend full weeks in our program initially when he gets back,” McCartney added.
“When we get a line of sight and an eye on Sam we’ll have a bit better of an indication as to where he is at.
“He was really unwell there for a few days, obviously in hospital during that Christmas period, so we’re just ensuring that we take a phased approach with him coming back.
“We want him at 100 per cent fitness as quickly as possible instead of maybe coming back a little bit early and doing a little too much and having that linger for a while.”