MELBOURNE coach Simon Goodwin has labelled injury-ravaged wingman Harley Bennell's first run in five months a success, but admits the 27-year-old’s troublesome calves might leave him sidelined for the start of next season.
The former Gold Coast and Fremantle speedster will train with the Demons from December 3 in a bid to earn a spot on the club's list during the pre-season supplementary period.
Bennell completed a running session on Tuesday – the first he has done in five months after having surgery on both calf muscles.
"His first run was successful," Goodwin told SEN on Thursday morning.
"Harley's feeling really confident in it, but there's still a bit of unknown.
"He's had an operation where he's had both plantaris, which is a muscle down the bottom of the calf, taken out.
"(High performance manager) Darren Burgess has had some experience with that in soccer with some success, but that's been more around the healing of an Achilles, so we're still a bit unsure."
Goodwin said he had caught up with Bennell several times since he agreed to train with the Demons.
"He's emotional about where his footy's been and he doesn't want to waste it," Goodwin said.
"We want to give him that opportunity to train with us, prepare the best he can knowing it's going to be a journey.
"It might take time to get his calf right and not be ready for round one, he knows that, but he's got a love of the game."
The Demons were the biggest disappointment of last season, finishing second-last with a 5-17 record, after reaching a preliminary final in 2018.
Goodwin said the players returned to training with a point to prove.
"The emotion that they came back in, you could sense there was some embarrassment and some shame around our performance last year and they want to do something about it," he said.
"We're going to be a club that's under pressure for a lot of the summer and leading into the season.
"They've come back and want to prepare themselves as best they can. I was really proud of our leaders in the off-season.
"We had groups set up around Melbourne in terms of training.
"We had 13 or 14 guys at Sandringham Oval.
"We had Max Gawn take a group to America for a training camp, Jack Viney to Cairns for another training camp, so they were really committed to the process of coming back and being ready to go."