MELBOURNE could be on the verge of a round two selection shock, with coach Simon Goodwin confirming that he is desperate to blood new recruit Harley Bennell against Carlton this weekend.
Bennell, who was handed an AFL lifeline by the Demons after managing only two games in four years with the Dockers due to debilitating calf injuries, has had a number of minor setbacks since joining his new club as a supplemental selection period signing in February.
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However, after a strong training block in isolation due to the game's coronavirus suspension period, Bennell has impressed in full-contact drills and is pressing for his place in the senior side ahead of Saturday's encounter with the Blues at Marvel Stadium.
With Melbourne set to enjoy the luxury of a nearly full-strength squad to select from this weekend, Bennell's chances of making his first senior appearance in almost three years now rest on being given the green light by the club's medical team.
"I want to (play him)," Goodwin told reporters on Monday.
"It's very tempting and it's exciting. We always thought he'd be ready about mid-year and it just happens to be round two, so he's done everything right.
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"He's done a lot of training in isolation, but more importantly he's done everything we've asked of him in the last three weeks. He's definitely putting the pressure on.
"What it will be is a fairytale story for Harley. He's gone through a lot on and off the field and it's been a long time since he's played his last game of AFL football.
"We'll leave it with (high-performance manager) Darren Burgess and the medical team to come up with a decision, but he's going to be around the mark. He's very close and it's very exciting for the Melbourne supporters."
Bennell, 27, hasn't played an AFL match since featuring for Fremantle in August 2017, but established himself as one of the game's most exciting young prospects during an 81-game stint with Gold Coast.
Having impressed through the midfield during the club's match simulation drills recently, Goodwin now believes Bennell can make an impact in Melbourne's onball group later this season.
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"He'll move between the forward line and the midfield," Goodwin said.
"He's a highly talented player, he's very creative and he's got a beautiful kick. His ability to use his skillset and put his strengths on show is something we're looking forward to.
"He certainly gives our midfield a slightly different look. He's very good in traffic and he can certainly kick the ball well forward of centre. He's an exciting player for us.
"But, once again, we do have to just temper our expectations. He hasn't played a lot of footy in the last four years. It may take some type to adjust to AFL level."