Hawthorn captain Ben McEvoy's AFL comeback from a fractured neck is being lauded as "genuinely inspirational" by his coach Sam Mitchell.
McEvoy will play his first game since round two when the Hawks host Adelaide on Sunday.
"There's this great feeling not just because it's Ben McEvoy and he's back and he's the captain of the club, but also what we have seen him go through," Mitchell told reporters on Thursday.
"You will have seen little bits and pieces of him doing some strange exercises just trying to strengthen his neck with towels around his head.
"We throw around 'inspirational' for lots of stories but it's genuinely inspirational how he has gone about it.
"Early on, he's on an elliptical (trainer) in a hard neck brace and then he's doing agility work and running laps with a neck brace.
"It has been unbelievable how he has gone about it."
McEvoy's round-two game is his sole AFL match this year - he missed the season-opener because of COVID-19 related protocols.
But Mitchell said such was McEvoy's tenacity since suffering a small neck fracture at training in late March, the skipper was primed to play on Sunday.
"The fitness coaches said he can come straight back in, he has done so much training and so much work he doesn't need to play 50 per cent game time, he can play the whole game ... that's a great testament to the work he has done," he said.
"He is still a human so he's still going to have his own anxieties, he hasn't played footy for a long time now."
Forward Jack Gunston will miss the Marvel Stadium fixture against his former side Adelaide after the mid-week death of his father.
And the Hawks have ruled out midfielder James Worpel (shoulder) and defender Lachlan Bramble (back) for the rest of the season.
Worpel requires shoulder surgery but Mitchell dismissed speculation the on-baller may leave Hawthorn.
"He's a contracted player ... he is a proven A-grade player at AFL level," Mitchell said.
"He hasn't had the season that he would like but he's going to be a very good AFL player for us in the future and we're looking forward to seeing his best next season."
Sam Butler (shin) and Will Day (suspended) will also miss the match against Adelaide, but Denver Grainger-Barras has been named for his return.
The Crows lost defender Mitch Hinge (health and safety protocols) and forward Josh Rachele (hip), while Matt Crouch is a chance to play after being included on the extended bench.
Australian Associated Press
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