Goodwin delight at Bennell's AFL return

Shayne Hope
After a three-year injury nightmare, Harley Bennell has made a promising AFL return with Melbourne

Melbourne will continue to closely monitor Harley Bennell's workload but expect the injury-prone star to feature in round three after completing a successful AFL comeback.

Bennell, who was given a career lifeline by the Demons in February, had 14 disposals in Saturday's tense one-point win over Carlton at Marvel Stadium.

It was an emotional return for the former Fremantle and Gold Coast player in what was his first match at senior level since 2017 because of a career-threatening succession of calf injuries.

"It was just great to have him back out there," Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin said.

"It's an unbelievable story, not only for Harley but for our footy club.

"He worked his way into the game and he looked like he still needs a bit of footy to be right at his best, but he has missed so much.

"He's just going to keep improving with the more footy he plays.

"You can see when he's got the ball in hand he does use it well and does connect."

Bennell has been on a specialised program since joining Melbourne via the pre-season supplemental-selection period.

The 27-year-old will continue to work under close attention from the club's fitness guru Darren Burgess and, barring any unexpected issues with his post-match recovery, is expected to play against Essendon in round three.

"We are managing him," Goodwin said.

"We want to see him play out a full season for us but we'll just see how he pulls up."

Teenagers Trent Rivers and Luke Jackson are also likely to turn out against the Bombers at the MCG next Sunday after impressing Goodwin on debut against Carlton.

"They're really exciting for us and I thought Trent today was outstanding," Goodwin said.

"He came in and he was really composed with the footy, he won a lot of good one-on-ones for us and he certainly showed that he's going to be a real player for us moving forward.

"Luke competed all day. He didn't mark the ball as well as he would've liked, but he competed and brought the ball to ground and I don't think he got out-marked too often.

"He's an exciting prospect for us."