Bennell closing in on Demons contract
Harley Bennell is closing in on a contract with Melbourne for the 2020 season despite suffering another calf injury.
Bennell, 27, is training with the Demons in a bid to revive his stalled career, with the latest injury raising more serious questions over whether his body can withstand the rigours of AFL.
Melbourne has been cautious with the former Docker and Sun, easing him into its pre-season program but that hasn't stopped him from breaking down.
The latest calf strain hasn't scared off the Demons, however, with Bennell still more likely than not to be signed during the pre-season supplemental selection period.
"At this stage it's looking really positive for him getting a contract with us," Melbourne football boss Josh Mahoney told SEN.
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"He's done everything we've asked him to do on and off the field.
"He's really taken to the players, he's really popular amongst the playing group, so if there's an issue with his calf we've got to work through (it) - it's going to be a medium to long-term process but he's been really good.
"There's probably two or three things we're looking at and the calf is obviously a major one, we want him to get back and playing but it (the latest injury) hasn't impacted our decision either way."
Mahoney said Bennell's latest calf injury isn't serious.
"It was on the very minor scale and pushed him back three days in his rehab," he said.
"When we first brought Harley to come and train on we knew there was going to be some minor setbacks along the way given that he's done his calf I think over 20 times.
"At this stage we wouldn't say it was a surprise that he was going to hurt himself. Obviously you'd want him to go through his rehab and not have any bumps along the way but we were half expecting that."
The Demons have put to bed fears star ruckman Max Gawn won't be fit for Round 1, declaring he'll be back running next week after suffering a knee injury.
Gawn has been cleared of serious damage to his knee, with scans revealing a grade two strain of his left medial ligament.
He will wear a knee brace for a week but will be back running next week.
"He'll be back running around on Monday and possibly ready to play a game in three or four weeks time," Mahoney said.