Melbourne’s Jake Melksham and Jayden Hunt are facing the axe this week ahead of the blockbuster against Sydney with premiership stars Christian Salem and Ed Langdon set to return.

Melksham played his 200th game in the Demons’ loss to Fremantle and had little impact, collecting five touches in 78 per cent game time.

The 30-year-old is edging closer to the end of his career as he struggles to nail down a consistent senior spot.

Hunt also lacked his drive off half back, amassing only eight disposals and two rebound 50s. The welcome return of Salem to the backline, that will already be without Steven May, will make the left-footers presence even more important and could see Hunt sit on the sidelines.

Hawthorn’s poor showing in Darwin against the Suns leaves coach Sam Mitchell with plenty of questions, as they look to face the Pies on Sunday at the MCG.

With the likely return of ruckman Max Lynch and midfielder Jaeger O’Meara into the mix, unlucky utility Daniel Howe could encounter an axing despite a decent showing at TIO Stadium.

Howe collected 15 possessions, two clearances and two-hit outs, indicating his role in the ruck and through the middle. The no.17 may make room for Lynch or O’Meara and find himself back at Box Hill once again.

Young forward Sam Butler could also have a stint in the reserves, after a quiet performance, gathering a lowly eight touches and kicking one goal.

Sydney Swans youth Sam Wicks and Braeden Campbell are also in line to face the chopping block, after below par efforts in their win against the Tigers at the SCG.

The pair collected six touches each and kicked one goal but didn’t look up to the task against a strong side.

Coming up against Melbourne this week, coach John Longmire could decide to send either one back to the VFL, with Nick Blakey is expected to return after fighting illness that kept him out of round 11.

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