Harley Bennell will make his highly-anticipated return to AFL football when the Fremantle Dockers take on Richmond this weekend, coach Ross Lyon has confirmed.
Speaking on Wednesday morning, Lyon said the time was ripe for Bennell to make his return from career-threatening calf injuries.
“We could hold him back another week but it’s marginal difference, so I think on balance with his family here, his support network, without travel, it’s just another step in his progression to returning to be a top-flight AFL mid – which is what he is,” Lyon said.
“He’s overcome some significant challenges in rehab over a long period of time and it talks volumes to his character of hard work and resilience.
“Clearly he had some moments where he wobbled and was devastated, but it’s a real step forward.
“We’re aiming for it to be a longer journey than just this.
“There will be a bit of hype about it, but we don’t expect miracles. But he certainly brings some quality into the team.”
The Peel region product last graced an AFL turf in round 22, 2015, before being traded from the Gold Coast to Fremantle.
Since his arrival at the Dockers he has battled a spate of calf injuries, but has gotten through four games with Peel Thunder at the WAFL level unscathed this year.
He is expected to play predominantly in Fremantle’s forward line, and should add flair to a struggling front six.
The weekend’s clash with Richmond will mark 722 days between games for Bennell.