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UNC coach Larry Fedora expects return of two starters

North Carolina’s Tyler Powell, top, stops Illinois’ Josh Ferguson in September 2015. Powell missed the 2016 rematch between the teams due to undisclosed personal reasons.
North Carolina’s Tyler Powell, top, stops Illinois’ Josh Ferguson in September 2015. Powell missed the 2016 rematch between the teams due to undisclosed personal reasons. rwillett@newsobserver.com

After missing North Carolina’s 48-23 victory at Illinois on Saturday for undisclosed personal reasons, defensive lineman Tyler Powell and offensive guard Tommy Hatton are expected to return to the team this week, coach Larry Fedora said on Monday.

“I believe that both guys will be with us tomorrow, as far as I know, as of today,” Fedora said.

Powell, a junior, was expected to start at defensive end during the season-opener against Georgia on Sept. 3. He traveled with the team to Atlanta, warmed up before the game but then was absent during the game. He wasn’t on the sideline during that game and didn’t practice last week.

Hatton, meanwhile, made his first college start against Georgia but then didn’t practice last week. Neither Powell nor Hatton traveled with the Tar Heels to Illinois.

Both players entered the preseason as backups but circumstances thrust them into starting roles. Powell had been set to start in place of the injured Dajaun Drennon. Hatton started at right guard in place of John Ferranto, who was lost for the season after suffering a torn pectoral muscle early in preseason practice.

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