Fremantle coach Ross Lyon has backed injured midfielder Harley Bennell to return to football despite a string of off-field indiscretions to go with his injury woes.
Lyon said on Monday night that he expects the midfielder, who hasn't played a game since joining the club from Gold Coast in the 2015 trade period, to be ready to go with WAFL side Peel Thunder in five weeks time.
'The plan is for him to play. We had a meeting last week that he'd be playing in five weeks at Peel,' Lyon told Fox Footy on Monday night.
'I understand the conjecture but it's fingernail-deep analysis and it's never as simple as it seems on the surface.'
The 'conjecture' involves Bennell's off-field issues which have included being kicked off a Virgin Australia flight from Melbourne to the Gold Coast for intoxication last month and his behaviour at a Peel Thunder game, at the weekend.
The 24-year-old twice interrupted the three-quarter time huddle of the match between Peel Thunder and Swan Districts to speak to his cousin Traye Bennell before being spoken to by Dockers assistant coach Roger Hayden.
For the latter Bennell faces a meeting with Dockers CEO Steve Rosich and football manager Chris Bond on Tuesday.
Lyon admitted Bennell was facing a personal struggle in dealing with the constant calf injuries that have halted his once promising career.
'From the time he re-injured his aponeurosis (in his calf) after he absolutely dedicated himself, clearly he's been devastated,' Lyon said.
'Now if you're a professional player and potentially one of the best players in the land and you've dedicated yourself ... and it implodes on you again 18 months in, people go through anger, frustration, denial, sadness, and there's no doubt somewhere on that curve he's sitting.
'But he needs to gather himself and give it meaning and come out and reboot, that's exactly where we're at.'
Earlier on Monday had faced heavy criticism from veteran AFL analyst Mike Sheahan who told SEN radio he thought Bennell's career was done.
'He's never going to play another game, Harley Bennell,' Sheahan said citing his behaviour and injury history.