Bennell locked in for Demons AFL debut

Harley Bennell will make his Melbourne debut against Carlton on Saturday to complete an unlikely AFL comeback.

The Demons confirmed on Wednesday the former Gold Coast and Fremantle midfielder has been selected to play his first AFL game since round 23 of 2017.

Bennell was limited to just two games for Fremantle between 2016 and 2019 through injury and off-field issues after previously kicking 92 goals in 81 games at the Suns.

The Demons, confident of getting Bennell past a torrid run of calf injuries, handed him a career lifeline via February’s supplemental selection period.

The 27-year-old had always worked towards a mid-year return but is one of the winners of the AFL season shutdown, which allowed him to find fitness ahead of a rescheduled round two.

On Monday, Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin flagged Bennell would move between the midfield and forward line for the Demons.

“He’s a highly talented player, he’s very creative and he’s got a beautiful kick,” Goodwin said.

“So our ability to use his skill set and put his strengths on show is something we’re looking forward to and he certainly gives our midfield a slightly different look.

“He’s very good in traffic and he can certainly kick the ball well forward of centre.

“So he’s an exciting player for us but… we do have to just temper our expectation.

“He hasn’t played a lot of footy now in the last four years, and it may take some time to adjust to AFL level.”

Melbourne’s No.3 draft pick, Luke Jackson, will also debut alongside fellow draftee Trent Rivers.

Jackson is an athletic ruck/forward while Rivers is set to play a role off half-back.

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