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Calf cuts Docker’s latest comeback short

Harley Bennell’s quest to play senior footy in 2018 is over

THE FAINT chance Harley Bennell might play for Fremantle this season has officially been ended by yet another calf setback.

It means the ex-Gold Coast star finishes his initial three-year deal at the Dockers having made just two appearances in purple.

Bennell signed a one-year contract extension last week, with coach Ross Lyon conceding 2019 would be “make and break” for his stalled career.

The 25-year-old launched his latest attempted comeback at Peel last Saturday after three weeks on the sidelines.

But he hurt his calf again during the second half against Claremont, and won’t be available when the under-siege Dockers host Collingwood in the final round.

Bennell could be seen again during WAFL finals, if Peel qualifies.

Freo hopes to load up with veteran ruckman Aaron Sandilands (calf), Stephen Hill (quad) and key defender Joel Hamling (calf) against the Pies.

Small forward Sam Switkowksi is also named as a test after nicking a calf on debut against Carlton two rounds ago.

Sandilands, who has signed on for a 17th season next year, is keen to return to help steady the ship after a club-record 133-point hammering by Geelong.

“We’re all driven as a group to bounce back this week and play some really good footy,” he said.

The 35-year-old big man has played only once since round 10 – and made only 26 appearances in the past three seasons – but hasn’t spoken to the club hierarchy about playing a restricted number of games next year.

“No, not at all. It will all be about having a really strong summer and getting fit,” Sandilands said.

“Our physios and doctors, I believe, are the best in the game, so I feel like if I get my body right and have a bit of luck go my way I should be fine.”

Sandilands believed he could fast-track protégé Sean Darcy’s development by playing alongside the hulking 20-year-old next season.

So far, the pair have managed less than a quarter in the same side in two seasons, but they could unite against the Magpies.

“I see no reason why you can’t have two ruckmen in the one side – as long as one is able to contribute up forward,” Sandilands said.

“We’ve got all summer to be able to work on that and hopefully both of us can stay fit and see how it trials.

“I’d hope it fast-tracks (Darcy playing alongside me).”

Source: AFL FOOTBALL NEWS