HARLEY Bennell's long-awaited Fremantle comeback is edging closer, with the former Gold Coast star in contention to replace injured youngster Andrew Brayshaw against Port Adelaide.
Brayshaw played through a torn adductor during the Dockers' 54-point loss to Melbourne in Darwin and will be sidelined for the first time since making his debut in round one.
With finals out of the equation for Freo, coach Ross Lyon insisted the club would continue to select players with a view to the future.
THE RUN HOME Who'll make the finals and who'll miss?
First-year midfielder Mitch Crowden is in the mix to replace Brayshaw, however Bennell is finally back in the selection frame after seven appearances for Peel.
The 25-year-old has only played twice for Fremantle since his high-profile trade at the end of 2015, and hasn't been sighted in purple since round 23 last year.
"(Brayshaw) will miss three weeks, which is disappointing, but in the context of (his) first year and a heavy load it's not surprising," Lyon told Channel Seven.
"We've got Crowden down there, (ruckman Scott) Jones we'll look at, (Cam) McCarthy ran and worked really hard without much opportunity and obviously Harley has had another game under his belt, so they'll all come under consideration for us."
Yet-to-debut midfielder Tom North might have been in contention to face the Power on Sunday but the 19-year-old suffered a hamstring strain during Peel's loss to Subiaco last Friday night.
Veteran goalsneak Hayden Ballantyne is also unavailable for at least two weeks due to a high ankle sprain.
The Dockers have suffered two hammerings since the bye, going down to Brisbane by 55 points and then copping a hiding from Melbourne to slip to a 6-9 record.
THE 'OTHER' RUN HOME Who's getting the top picks?
With Freo missing ruckman Aaron Sandilands (calf) and superstar Nat Fyfe (hamstring), the Demons dominated the inside 50 count 78-28 in a one-sided affair.
"When we've played well I think we've averaged 56 (inside 50s) and we've scored at a top-four value of 96, 97 points," Lyon said.
"We had nine players under 25 games. I think, in context, Melbourne had three.
"It was really hot, humid conditions, really difficult, and we struggled to match their power and intensity.
"The Dockers supporters, they'll understand there's a lot of short-term pain for long-term gain at the moment.
"We'll hold the course. We'll continue to play our youth, there'll be some ups, there'll be some downs but in the long run we'll come out on top.
"We've just got to do the time."