The courageous Hawks skipper and inspiration is into the closing stages of a full recovery from knee surgery in October after the tough veteran battled through most of last season and the September finals bravely nursing the problem.
He had surgery to strengthen and tighten ligaments in the back of his knee after managing just 10 senior games last season with the problem as well as a series of calf strains.
Hodge is understood to have set sights at a possible return late into April with prospects of making a comeback in Launceston against Fremantle in Round 4 or against North Melbourne a week later on April 28 at the MCG.
Hodge, 28 and with 205 senior games under his belt, is unlikely to be rushed with Hawks management and medical staff expected to take a highly cautious approach with the courageous enforcer and proven stoppage and clearances expert.
The Hawks are tipped to be approaching full strength for a highly anticipated Round 1 season opening blockbuster against recent nemesis Geelong at the MCG on Easter Monday.
Only Hodge and opportunist small forward Paul Puopolo appear certain to miss the latest potential epic between two of the league’s genuine powerhouse units with Hawthorn having lost their last nine engagements with the Cats since winning the 2008 grand final at Geelong’s expense.
Premiership utility Xavier Ellis is also tipped to resume full training well in time to press for selection in the opener against the Cats.
The Hawks relinquished prospects of winning this summer’s NAB Cup with a shoddy trip north and two losses in triangular appointments with Gold Coast and Brisbane at Metricon Stadium.
Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson is tipped to wheel out some of his big guns for Friday night’s NAB Cup clash with a struggling Western Bulldogs after a host of star play-makers were rested from the trip to open NAB Cup commitments.
Veteran on-ballers Sam Mitchell, Brad Sewell and Jordan Lewis will play against the Dogs.
Michael Osborne and Shaun Burgoyne missed the trip as well as reigning All-Australian defender Grant Birchall and are not back into playing action yet.
The Hawks have already ruled out nippy on-baller and goal-shark Cyril Rioli with ankle soreness as well as gun defensive recruit Brian Lake from playing against his old club on Friday because of calf tightness.
Trump forward Lance Franklin will have another outing after a less than impressive first-up display on the Gold Coast.
Hawks NAB Cup Round 2 team
2 Jarryd Roughead
3 Jordan Lewis
4 Matt Suckling
5 Sam Mitchell
6 Josh Gibson
10 Bradley Hill
12 Brad Sewell
13 Kyle Cheney
16 Isaac Smith
18 Brent Guerra
19 Jack Gunston
20 David Hale
21 Shane Savage
22 Luke Breust
23 Lance Franklin
24 Ben Stratton
25 Ryan Schoenmakers
27 Matt Spangher
29 William Langford (R) - Emergency
32 Jonathan Simpkin
35 Sam Grimley
37 Jed Anderson
38 Mitchell Hallahan - Emergency
41 Taylor Duryea
43 Amos Frank (R)
46 Derick Wanganeen (R)
47 Joanthon Ceglar (R) - Emergency