Prized Fremantle recruit Harley Bennell is set to miss at least another month of AFL action as the Dockers search far and wide to find a permanent fix for his calf issues.
Bennell was “haunted” by calf tweaks during his time at Gold Coast, and the issue has already flared up twice since his switch to Fremantle at the end of last season.
The 23-year-old is currently grounded after injuring his calf while playing for WAFL side Peel Thunder last month.
Dockers coach Ross Lyon confirmed Bennell won’t be available for selection for at least the next four weeks.
And if Fremantle decide Bennell needs to undergo another extensive rehabilitation program to strengthen his calves – like what he did over summer – the 23-year-old might not return until midway through the season.
Lyon said the Dockers would do everything within their powers to ensure the calf issue doesn’t continue to hamper Bennell.
Fremantle have even approached Craig Purdam – the head of physical therapies at the AIS – in a bid to map out the best program for Bennell’s recovery.
Other leading experts around the country have also been consulted.
The Dockers are in desperate need for Bennell to return after slumping to a 0-2 start to the season.
Fremantle’s lack of leg speed was brutally exposed in losses to the Bulldogs and Suns, but Lyon insists he won’t rush back the fleet-footed midfielder.
“It’s more than about the first five weeks of the season,” Lyon said.
“We want Harley to be an 8-10 year player with us.
“We know he’s got that level of ability in him and he’s committed to do that.
“We certainly won’t be taking shortcuts. So when he returns, it will be when we feel he can sustain it.”
Lyon didn’t rule out the possibility of bringing Bennell straight back into AFL ranks when he’s ready to resume playing duties.
“I played Steven Baker off 14 weeks straight into the grand final. So it can be done,” Lyon said.
Bennell left Gold Coast in bitter circumstances after becoming embroiled in several off-field controversies.
But Lyon has been pleased by the commitment Bennell’s shown since being traded to the Dockers.