When will Tom Mitchell be back in action?
Hawthorn ball-magnet Tom Mitchell's return date is still up in the air with just over two months until the opening round.
Last Saturday marked a year since he suffered a broken leg at training which ended his 2019 season before it began, leaving the Hawks without their prime clearance winner.
While he has joined the main training group, the Brownlow Medallist says he hasn't hit full intensity and needs to "train smarter" as he hunts a Round 1 return.
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"I'm tracking well, I'm slowly starting to integrate into sort of team training drills and things like that, but I still don't have a confirmation date on a return to play date yet," Mitchell said on SEN.
"I'm really enjoying being among the boys and team training instead of running laps by myself.
"I can pretty much do everything once you integrate into the team skills component - obviously the running he kicking the change of direction - everything I'm going to need to do to play I've sort of started doing that but just at a lower level."
"Coming off a pretty nasty injury, I sort of need to be a little bit realistic and maybe train smarter rather than harder … (knowing) when to bring it down so my body can match the training loads again."
The 26-year-old averaged 35 disposals, eight clearances and six tackles per game in his Brownlow winning season but the star is unsure he can reach the same heights in 2020 given the extent of his injury and Hawthorn's enhanced midfield depth.
"I would really like to get back to a high standard of playing but I'm just not sure how long that's going to take coming off a big injury," he said.
"We've got a number of midfielders who are running through there … even guys on the outside like Isaac Smith, Ricky Henderson and Tom Scully.
"I feel as though we've got a really deep midfield so whether that means we are spreading the load a bit more, that may help the whole team."
A popular SuperCoach pick in 2018, Mitchell is priced at $630,900 in 2020 but owners may have to reconsider if he isn't part of the Hawks' line-up in the Marsh Community Series.
Mitchell flagged James Worpel as one of the key players to step up in his absence last season, joking that the young gun might send him "back to Box Hill" before he can get back into the team.
"It was really pleasing watching the younger guys, James Worpel was one that stood out last year and really added some depth to our midfield," he said.
"Hopefully with Chad Wingard getting a full pre-season under his belt and the addition of Jonny Patton we can really gel together and take that next step as a team."