After sportsnewsfirst revealed on Wednesday that the inspirational Hawks leader could be handled cautiously with his return from knee surgery, Clarkson disclosed plans for prospects of a return early into the new season.
Hodge, 28, is approaching a full recovery with speculation the 2008 premiership star and Norm Smith medallist could miss a chunk of April action.
The Hawks launch their new flag quest with a blockbuster shootout against Geelong on Easter Monday at the MCG.
It's then more imposing engagements in a trip west just six days after the Cats clash to take on rival top-four candidate West Coast before a Round 3 blockbuster with powerhouse Collingwood on April 14.
The Hawks then host another genuine top-four hopeful Fremantle at Launceston in Round 4 and wrap up April duties against North Melbourne at the MCG a week later.
Clarkson was coy on whether the brilliant Hodge would be fit and match conditioned sufficiently early into April to rush straight into senior team selection or a return through VFL ranks.
Hodge made a playing comeback through the Hawks affiliate club Box Hill last year in late July on the back of a 10-week lay-off with knee problems before a stunning five-goal resumption in a 94-point Friday night demolition of Essendon in Round 18.
"We're anticipating Hodgey's going to be playing footy at round one, but just what footy that is, we've got to make a judgement at that point in time," Clarkson said on Thursday.
The Hawks boss claims Hodge is on course to resume soon at some level if he has no setbacks and soreness as the star play-maker increases training loads over the next month ahead of a premiership season opener.
"He's training today and we've still got four weeks until we play," said Clarkson.
"My experience with footy is that four weeks is a good time, once you start full training, to get yourself ready to play.
"We've just got to make a judgement on when he starts to play matches and whether he's conditioned well enough to play round one.
"But he's the captain of our club.
"it's going to be pretty tempting to select him, I'd imagine, but we'll make that call at the time.
"We're happy with his progress."