Demons reveal timeline on Bennell comeback

Melbourne concede Harley Bennell won't be ready to return at AFL level until at least halfway through the season.

The injury-prone former Fremantle and Gold Coast midfielder was handed a career lifeline by the Demons this month despite another setback with his troublesome calf muscles.

He remains in the club's rehabilitation group and was on light duties at training on Monday.

Bennell, 27, managed just two games during a frustrating four-year stint with the Dockers - both of which came in 2017.

Harley Bennell

"Harley's travelling really well both on and off the field," Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin said.

"He's settled in really well to our group, clearly he's training and rehabbing.

"We've got no expectation on Harley playing early in the season.

"We want to get him back into full training first off.

"When that happens we'll be guided by our high performance team and our medical team.

"In an ideal world, when would we see him? Middle of the year would be a really good-case scenario for us."

Harley Bennell

The news is much better for new Melbourne captain Max Gawn, who is progressing well in his recovery from a knee injury sustained during the club's pre-season training camp last month.

Gawn, who said he was a certainty for round one, is targeting the pre-season series fixture against Hawthorn on March 6.

"We've got a game against North Melbourne this week, just a scratch match, that I tried to play in but Goody (Goodwin) told me no," Gawn said.

"The next one after, which is Hawthorn down at Launceston, I think I should be a chance and then go into round one."

Melbourne finished second-last with just five wins last year and face the daunting proposition of taking on premiership fancies West Coast at Optus Stadium in their 2020 season opener on March 22.

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