Boom recruit Harley Bennell will have to bide his time before making his first AFL outing for Fremantle after the former Gold Coast flier suffered a calf injury.
Bennell hurt his calf in a WAFL match for Peel Thunder on Saturday, ruling him out of Sunday’s clash against the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium.
The Dockers claimed Bennell from the Suns during the 2015 trade period in the hope that his line-breaking talents would provide one of the missing pieces of the puzzle as they chase an elusive first premiership.
But his stint with the Dockers is off to a bad start after Bennell got hurt late in Saturday’s WAFL match, which he had dominated with 23 possessions and four goals.
Coach Ross Lyon played down the significance of Bennell’s enforced absence against the Bulldogs, saying he had never been a confirmed starter.
“Unfortunately Harley has strained a calf coming out of Saturday’s game so he’ll miss a number of weeks – how long that is we don’t know,” Lyon said.
“We’re really disappointed. Everything was on track.
“Just to be clear, Harley was never in – so my thought processes don’t change at all really.”
The Dockers are also unable to call on draftee Shane Yarran for round one, but Lyon remains confident of a strong showing against a Bulldogs outfit who exceeded all expectations last year in claiming a finals berth for the first time since 2010.
“I flew over to Melbourne and saw them but I’ve been really focused on our footy and I’ve got some footage to get through,” Lyon said.
“We’re taking every minute to get to the line. They’re a formidable opponent on their home ground.
“We get to fly over. Our group is really keen to challenge themselves and accept the challenge.”