INJURY-PLAGUED Fremantle forward Harley Bennell faces a long stint on the sidelines after he picked up a 'significant right calf tear' during a WAFL game on Saturday.
Bennell hurt his calf during the opening quarter of Peel Thunder's 42-point victory over Perth on Saturday and scans have since showed the talented 26-year-old will be out of action for a lengthy period.
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Fremantle general manager of football Peter Bell said the Dockers will continue to support Bennell as he recovers and they still maintain hope that he can return to full fitness in the future.
"It’s incredibly disappointing for Harley and the club, particularly given the injury setbacks he has endured during the past three years," Bell said.
"Even more so given that he was slowly building and working his way towards a potential return to playing at AFL level.
"We all know what Harley has had to work through and how incredibly resilient and determined he is.
"We will wrap our arms around him and provide all the support he requires while he rehabilitates the injury."
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The latest setback is a big blow for Bennell, who has been working his way back to full fitness in the WAFL in recent weeks and was closing in on an AFL return with Ross Lyon's side.
Saturday's clash for Peel Thunder was Bennell’s fourth appearance in the WAFL this season and the Dockers had hoped he would return to their senior team in the coming weeks, following just two matches since crossing from the Suns in 2016.
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While the news on Bennell wasn't good for the Dockers, the prognosis on spearhead Jesse Hogan and veteran onballer Stephen Hill appears much better.
Hogan picked up a foot problem during the opening quarter of the Dockers' loss to Melbourne on Saturday and it was initially thought the issue was related to the navicular injury that ended his season early when with the Demons last year.
But Hogan has escaped serious injury, with the Dockers revealing the issue is merely a 'right mid-foot sprain' that will see the key forward 'return to playing football in the coming weeks'.
Hill also escaped serious injury when he strained his hamstring against the Demons, but the Dockers are yet to put a likely return date on his recovery.
The history of Harley Bennell's calves
Sunday, March 2, 2014 – Bennell plays a pre-season game for Gold Coast against Collingwood but a problematic calf issue means he doesn't return, via the NEAFL, until April.
Pre-Christmas, 2015 – Suffered a calf injury and has 'ongoing calf problems' during the pre-season.
Saturday, March 19, 2016 – Calf strain while playing for Peel Thunder. Picked up 23 disposals and slotted four goals in that display.
Friday, November 18, 2016 – Left calf strain at training, which was then considered his 'good' calf.
Sunday, December 10, 2016 – Bennell leaves for Munich, Germany, to consult with world-renowned soft-tissue expert Dr Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt for his problematic calves.
Tuesday, April 4, 2017 – Another left calf injury. Initially diagnosed as a minor tear but further scans showed it was more serious than first thought. Had yet to resume full training before that setback.
Wednesday, February 14, 2018 – Grade one tear in his left calf while training with Peel.
Saturday, June 2, 2018 – Calf tightness in his fourth-straight game for Peel. Sat out the second half of the clash with Claremont.
Saturday, July 28, 2018 – Left calf injury while playing for Peel. Pulled up short early in the last quarter after a 27-disposal and two-goal effort against West Perth and went to the bench, but eventually returned to the field.
Saturday, August 18, 2018 – Calf injury while playing for Peel in the second half of a match against Claremont, attempting a comeback after three weeks on the sidelines.
Week of January 21, 2019 – Bennell experiences calf tightness during a pre-season training session.
Friday, February 8, 2019 – Bennell strains a calf while training.
Tuesday, April 16, 2019 - Bennell experiences calf soreness at the end of training. An ultrasound showed no abnormalties, but an MRI confirmed he had re-injured his right calf.
Saturday, June 23, 2019 - Bennell suffers a 'significant right calf tear' early on in his fourth straight WAFL game as he was closing in on an AFL recall.