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Lyon wants injured star to stay a Docker

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Bennell could still be a Docker in 2019 - AFL,Fremantle Dockers,Harley Bennell,Contracts
Bennell could still be a Docker in 2019

FREMANTLE coach Ross Lyon says the club will offer Harley Bennell a new contract even if the injury-plagued midfielder doesn't play a senior game this season.

Bennell has notched just two senior games since crossing to Fremantle at the end of 2015, and his lucrative three-year deal ends this season.

The 25-year-old has been plagued by calf issues during his time at the Dockers, and off-field issues have also ensured his stay has been a rollercoaster ride.

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But Bennell has made strong progress both on and off the field in recent months, and is on the cusp of an AFL return after making eight WAFL appearances.

Lyon says Bennell is now at the stage where he can be fully unleashed in WAFL games, in contrast to in previous matches where he was limited to a certain amount of sprint work.

The Dockers are hopeful Bennell, who has been working with a ballet physiotherapist this year, will be able to make his return in the coming weeks.

But even if he doesn't, Lyon said he still wants Bennell at the club next year.

"We'd like Harley to be here and be contracted," Lyon said.

"That's our inner belief. Harley knows that, and his manager Colin Young knows that.

"So all things being equal, regardless of senior football and progressing, Harley will be here. We really value him."

Bennell won't feature for Fremantle in Saturday's clash with Essendon at Etihad Stadium.

But another strong WAFL display could have him in the frame for next week's clash with Hawthorn in Perth.

"He's progressing really well," Lyon said.

"He's unlimited in how he can sprint and run, so he'll be able to let himself go.

"He's done a bigger bulk of work. Last year we played him forward, like the full-forward role, so he walked and sprinted.

"But this time we've said, 'We're going to get you to play mid'."