The fitness news no Eagles fan wanted to hear

Justin Chadwick
The fitness news no Eagles fan wanted to hear

West Coast coach Adam Simpson has conceded he is only hopeful Josh Kennedy will be fit for the start of the AFL season after having to "de-load" the star forward.

Kennedy jogged and walked laps on Monday at training, taking a step back after his heavy running loads during the Christmas period.

Simpson said it was important to take a cautious approach with the 31-year-old, who underwent off-season shoulder surgery.

"We just had a bit of a de-load on JK as he went really hard pre-Christmas and in January, so we'll build him back up and get him up for round one, hopefully," Simpson said.

"We've just got to be patient with his body and understand he's not 24 any more.

"If he pulls up a bit sore, we pull him back."

After missing five games in 2017, Kennedy tallied just 14 games last year as he returned from injury for the Eagles' three finals wins.

While his teammates have picked up the Sherrins, Josh Kennedy is jogging alone. Pic: Getty

Elliot Yeo (toe), Jeremy McGovern (ribs), Tom Barrass (foot), Daniel Venables (knee) and Jake Waterman (ankle) are others on the comeback trail from injuries.

West Coast's premiership defence begins on March 23 when they take on Brisbane at the Gabba.

Perenially injured star hits another roadblock

Harley Bennell's bid to return to the AFL early this season has taken a hit after the Fremantle midfielder suffered yet another calf injury.

Bennell strained his calf at pre-season training last week and will now have his loads reduced in a bid to allow him to recover from the latest setback.

The 26-year-old has been plagued by calf issues since joining Fremantle at the end of 2015, notching just two AFL games over that period.

Bennell failed to play a single AFL game last season and was considered lucky in some quarters to be handed a fresh one-year deal.

Dockers coach Ross Lyon was hopeful Bennell would be able to overcome his calf issues this year to play a forward role.

But his latest setback means Bennell will be behind the eight ball when Fremantle's AFL season commences on March 24 against North Melbourne.

Bennell hit the headlines during the Christmas period when he was asked to leave a Perth pub because he was too drunk.

It was the latest in a long list of off-field misdemeanours for the former Gold Coast star.