FREMANTLE isn't ruling out participating in the upcoming Mid-Season Rookie Draft but, barring disaster during his latest comeback bid, placing Harley Bennell on the long-term injury list won't be the path for the Dockers to open a list berth.
The Dockers don't currently have a free spot for the draft on May 27 and AFL.com.au reported last month they declined veteran Aaron Sandilands' offer to retire.
Sandilands hasn't played this year as he battles calf problems and doesn't have a return date but has started running again and is aiming for a late-season comeback.
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It remains to be seen how Fremantle handles Shane Kersten, who was a month from returning after foot surgery last week but now doesn't have a timeframe.
Meanwhile, Bennell, who has managed only two AFL games since joining Fremantle at the end of 2015, is on track for his first appearance this year for Peel against Subiaco shortly after the draft on June 2.
"I'm circumspect and Harley's circumspect, and we all should be," coach Ross Lyon said.
"But he trained really well with that (match simulation) session on the weekend and he's progressing, but we just want to stay in the moment with him.
"We keep our fingers crossed."
Fremantle football boss Peter Bell is overseeing the Dockers' list manager Mark Micallef as he explores the mid-season draft options available.
Eight WA players have been invited to medical screening – including former Freo players Josh Deluca, the state's best player in the loss to South Australia last Sunday, and Brady Grey.
South Fremantle tough nut Marlion Pickett is a leading chance to be picked up, while young defender Jarvis Pina is under Fremantle's noses at Peel.
Lyon said Fremantle would likely lean towards youth over ready-made players if a spot opens up.
"Ideally, that's what we'd like to keep adding to (Andrew) Brayshaw and (Adam) Cerra," he said.
"At the right time they will call me in and the recruiters will say (whether) there's someone we would like to take for that six-month (period) with the potential to upgrade them.
"I'm not sure that's the case for us yet."
The Dockers, who have tumbled from second to eighth on the ladder after back-to-back losses, are expected to call up Connor Blakely for Saturday night's clash with Essendon at Marvel Stadium.
Blakely hasn't played since round 13 last year but is ready to go after two WAFL matches back from a serious hamstring before last weekend's state game bye.
Stephen Hill (quad), Hayden Ballantyne (hamstring) and Bennell are aiming to be back within the next month.
Draftee Sam Sturt is out for at least another four weeks, a month after suffering his second concussion of the year, but will fly with the team back to Melbourne this Thursday.
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"We're on the conservative path on that," Lyon said.
"I think it will be 60 days, the timeframe. We went through all the steps, so go and get the scan, take all the advice, how long, to mitigate any risk.
"He's a really important young player. Has shown some really good signs."