HAWTHORN coach Alastair Clarkson says he will continue to back the side’s young talent.

Clarkson says the Hawks know there will be ups and downs as their younger brigade develops at AFL level, but admits it’s integral to keeping the Hawks up the top of the table.

“We need to keep energising our side,” Clarkson told 3AW on Sunday.

“We’ve had some of those boys that have been around our club for anywhere from two to four years now, it’s not just about whether they can play league footy, it’s whether they can play at the level that’s required to consistently challenge near the top of the ladder again.”

The Hawks have already turned to a number of youngsters this year, including the likes of James Sicily, Daniel Howe, Jonathan O’Rourke, Marc Pittonet and Tim O’Brien.

All have shown promising signs, which has come as no surprise to Clarkson.

“We’ve known these boys can play, but when you’re in a high performance phase like we’ve been in the last three to four years, it’s difficult for them to get the opportunities that they perhaps would (in a less successful side),” he said.

“They’ve done that (developed at VFL level) for a fair time now and they’re read y to play some footy and make contributions.

“We’re going to get some ups and downs… that’s going to happen with young lads, but we’re going to persevere with them and hopefully they can turn into good footballers for us.”