Docker Bennell closing in on AFL return

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    Prized Fremantle recruit Harley Bennell could be just weeks away from an AFL return after he made it through Saturday’s WAFL hit-out unscathed.

    Bennell, playing his first match in 16 months, was solid in his 60 minutes of action for Peel Thunder against East Perth at Leederville Oval.

    Playing as a forward, Bennell tallied 12 disposals and a goal before being wrapped in cotton wool.

    Peel Thunder won the match 12.7 (79) to 7.9 (51).

    Bennell crossed to the Dockers at the end of 2015, but he’s yet to play a senior game for the club because of chronic calf issues.

    Dockers coach Ross Lyon was on hand to watch Bennell play on Saturday, and he would have been breathing a big sigh of relief after watching his star midfielder make it through unscathed.

    “We managed his minutes pretty well but we also managed his distance and speed,” Fremantle football operations manager Chris Bond said.

    “It was important for Harley and it was great to see.

    “He’s a classy player and has performed at the highest level consistently before, so we’re confident he’ll get back to playing good footy.

    “The most important thing is he feels really well (about the game) and that’s what he has done.”

    If all goes to plan, Bennell will play at least two more games for Peel, before a possible Dockers debut in the round 20 clash with Gold Coast in Perth.

    Forward Matt Taberner pushed his claims for a recall with a five-goal haul.

    Taberner also tallied 27 disposals and 10 marks.

    © AAP 2017

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