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Better late than never for Fyfe, Bennell

Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe has been carefully managed since breaking his leg against Hawthorn - ${keywords}
Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe has been carefully managed since breaking his leg against Hawthorn

STAR Fremantle midfielders Nat Fyfe and Harley Bennell are still yet to return to the Dockers' main training group, with the NAB Challenge drawing ever closer.  

Both Fyfe and Bennell missed the main session on Monday at Fremantle Oval, but both appeared on the track following the session to do some running.  

Fyfe ran solidly for close to an hour under the watchful eye of the Dockers' sports science staff. 

Teammate Aaron Sandilands said the Brownlow medallist was not far away from returning to full training. 

"He's going really well," Sandilands said. 

"He'd obviously like to be in the main group training but he's doing his program … he'll be back in the main squad pretty soon." 

"I think he has spent a fair bit of time out on the track. I don’t think he's missed too much running. He's elite with the way he prepares, so no doubt he'll be fine once he's back in the main group." 

Fyfe was managed prior to Christmas as he was recovering from surgery in September on the fractured leg he suffered against Hawthorn in the preliminary final, but he also reportedly injured his back in the last session before the Christmas break. 

He did not look to be in any discomfort during his running session on Monday. 

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While the signs appear positive for Fyfe there is a concern over Bennell, who only appeared briefly to do some light running. 

He had also been held back from training with the main group before Christmas. 

Assistant coach David Hale said in mid-December that Bennell had been "de-loaded" after "doing a fair bit of work" in the lead-up to the break. 

Bennell experienced some soft tissue problems during his time at Gold Coast, missing games in each of the last two seasons with calf issues. 

Sandilands said he was not 100 per cent sure of Bennell's present issue but he said the recruit was working on an individual program. 

"He's going well," Sandilands said. 

"He's another player that's not too far away. He's doing his program and looking fit and he'll be back in the main squad soon." 

The Dockers' first NAB Challenge match is a little over a month away on February 19 against Richmond at Rushton Park in Mandurah. 

The Dockers did not have big numbers on the track on Monday as the players split into three groups to work with the line coaches. 

Ruckman Zac Clarke was absent from the early part of training as he continues rehabilitation on his ongoing knee problem, but like Fyfe he eventually joined in running drills. He did some lighter running, as did young key position players Michael Apeness and Alex Pearce.

Veterans Garrick Ibbotson and Danyle Pearce were also missing from main training.