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United by Purple

Bennell set to take on Bombers

Senior coach Ross Lyon addressed the media on Wednesday. Ross Lyon speaks to the media ahead of Sunday's game against Essendon.
PERTH, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 20: Harley Bennell of the Dockers in action during the 2017 AFL round 22 match between the Fremantle Dockers and the Richmond Tigers at Domain Stadium on August 20, 2017 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Media)
Harley Bennell made his Fremantle debut against Richmond in round 22.

Harley Bennell's debut in purple was a "snapshot of what he's got to offer" and Fremantle will continue building the 24-year-old's resilience by taking him to Etihad Stadium to face Essendon in the final round.

The undermanned Freo Dockers are coming off consecutive losses but one positive last round was Bennell's encouraging two-goal, six-disposal comeback after two years out of the game due to frustrating calf setbacks.

Bennell was restricted to playing in attack against Richmond on Sunday but Fremantle have big plans for the former Sun to get back to his electric best in midfield.

"We saw a snapshot of what he's got to offer, but we need to build that," senior coach Ross Lyon said.

"Then we'll discuss (playing finals at) Peel, if it's good to build his resilience and go into the summer we'll do that.

"Ultimately, he needs to be able to do the work to play alongside (Nat) Fyfe, (Stephen) Hill and (Michael) Walters … and we all know he's got those capabilities.

"We didn't recruit him just to be a forward, but at the minute that's where he's sort of stuck, so we'll keep him going."

Lyon was hopeful star midfielder Lachie Neale (groin/knee) would be fit to face the Bombers, who need to win to cement a finals berth.

Fremantle have a long injury list but Lyon hinted at some changes, with onballer Tommy Sheridan and defender Sam Collins in the mix.

Jonathon Griffin, who is out of contract at the end of the season, is set to replace suspended young ruckman Sean Darcy.

Former rookie Matt Taberner is also uncontracted for 2018, but the tall forward has performed strongly over the past two weeks and could have saved his career. 

"He's put his best foot forward, there's no doubt about that," Lyon said.

"He's a wonderful lad, he's worked really hard … but it would be remiss of me to be going through individuals and be talking about list management."

Veteran backman Zac Dawson is an outside chance for one last game against the Bombers, but Garrick Ibbotson won't be considered after announcing he would hang up the boots at season's end.

Lyon wasn't sure if there would be any other retirement announcements.

"The only one is Zac Dawson really, and he's doing it his way," he said.

Lyon forecast a tough summer ahead for the young Dockers in a bid to accelerate the club's rebuild, but insisted "there's a bit to like here".

"There's plenty of people who want to come over the hill, but I've experienced all that before," he said.

"I'm certainly not wobbling, I've got belief in our coaching group, playing group and the whole club.

"We'll come again, we've just got to do the work and then it will just be a matter of time."

While Fremantle’s focus is on an improved effort to finish the season, they could shape the eight with an upset victory on Sunday.

"It's not something I looked at but Leigh Montagna texted me and said 'if you can beat Essendon that would help us (St Kilda), we'll roll out the red carpet for you'," Lyon said.

"If I could do that, I would be happy to do that."

Asked if he would rather help his old club, and not arch-rivals West Coast reach finals, Lyon's reply was succinct.

"I would think so."

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs