???The next time highly controversial Fremantle recruit Harley Bennell attempts another training comeback, it could define if his AFL career is over.
The injury-ravaged midfielder suffered yet another setback with a calf strain late last month.
Scans confirmed a small tear in his right calf when Bennell had pain-killing injections, with advice to rest and recover before resuming training within a fortnight.
When the lively and highly skilful on-baller does resume again, later this month at the earliest, it is understood any further strain or tear could require surgery to Bennell’s calf tendon.
The 24-year-old has serious scarring and a swollen tendon that continues to contribute to calf strains when running and training loads are intensified.
Recovery from any necessary surgery in Bennell’s leg to relieve heavy swelling will need up to a three-month recovery.
Although his latest tear is understood to be only minor, the on-going nature in his training level increases is now a major alarm for Bennell and medical and fitness conditioning staff at Fremantle.
Dockers coach Ross Lyon confirmed his troubled import had escalated into explosive running and was on the verge of joining the full Dockers training group.
“He’s in the shadows of his heaviest load period in the gym and with his sprinting and training,” Lyon said on Thursday.
Bennell suffered as many as six nasty calf strains across 81 games at Gold Coast before he switched to Fremantle at the end of the 2015 season, after he was sacked by the Suns after a series of off-field indiscretions.
He has now suffered at least four further calf injury setbacks in attempts to generate full fitness to make a Dockers debut.
Bennell is contracted to Fremantle for next season and a playing return this season is likely to be through a comeback at WAFL level with Dockers alignment outfit Peel Thunder.