FREMANTLE football boss Chris Bond expects star midfielder Harley Bennell to play "a great deal of football" this season after a successful trip to Germany for treatment on his troublesome calves.
After missing all of 2016 due to injury, Bennell travelled to Munich last month seeking answers from internationally renowned soft-tissue expert Dr Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt, who has treated Usain Bolt and Kobe Bryant.
Bond said Bennell, 24, returned in a positive frame of mind and was building his running workload.
"He's not in the main group as yet, but he's certainly been able to get a fair few kilometres into his legs and he's working really hard," Freo's general manager of football operations told 6PR.
"We're really just monitoring him from a KPI point-of-view and once he continues to progress … he'll keep working towards the footy program.
"We're really confident he's going to be playing a great deal of football this year, and that's what we want to do.
"In regards to exact dates we're not too sure, he's just working through in really good spirits and training very hard."
The Dockers are set to field a new-look line-up after slumping from the minor premiership in 2015 to 16th on the ladder last year.
Bennell could effectively be a new recruit alongside four mature-age additions from rival clubs, while superstar Nat Fyfe (broken leg) and giant ruckman Aaron Sandilands (broken ribs) are training strongly after making just five appearances each last year.
"The new players that have come in have just knuckled down and trained," Bond said.
"They've been able to put some strong performances out on the track – Bradley Hill being one of them, Cam McCarthy's training really well, Joel Hamling and Shane Kersten.
"These players that have been in the system before have really come and worked really hard.
"(Fyfe) hasn't missed a beat in the pre-season, he's been outstanding on the track as well as our other leaders."
Bond said Freo's players would vote on their 2017 captain and leadership group soon, with Fyfe and last year's skipper David Mundy viewed externally as the frontrunners for the top job.
Meanwhile, the Dockers are close to moving from historic Fremantle Oval to their new state of the art facility at Cockburn, with Bond expecting the club to relocate in late February.