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Yarran made the 'best decision by him', says Blakely

Travis King
December 20, 2016 4:11 PM

AFL 2016 Rd 19 - Fremantle v Sydney

The Dockers can cover Shane Yarran's shock retirement, according to Connor Blakely

SHANE Yarran has made the "best decision for him" by retiring from football, and his decision to hang up the boots won't diminish Fremantle's attacking firepower next season, young gun Connor Blakely says. 

Meanwhile, in positive news for the Dockers, injury-plagued star Harley Bennell has returned to the club after seeking answers for his career-threatening soft-tissue problems in Germany earlier this month. 

Yarran, 27, parted ways with Freo on Monday after taking personal leave following a charge of unlawful wounding.

He also made a brief court appearance earlier this month for a charge of aggravated common assault, which he intends to plead not guilty to.

Yarran impressed by booting 10 goals from six games late last season, forming a dangerous combination with small forwards Michael Walters and Hayden Ballantyne. 

While Yarran's loss will be a blow, the Dockers added forwards Cam McCarthy and Shane Kersten during the NAB AFL Trade Period, and Blakely said Fremantle had enough attacking depth to worry opposition sides.

"Shane's a very talented player and as we saw last year in the six games he played, he's got a bit of X-factor to him, but there's also younger guys coming through," Blakely said. 

"It gives an opportunity for Josh Deluca and Michael Walters to step up again and Hayden Ballantyne, so Shane is a very talented player but then again we've got a strong forward line and a strong list, so we should be able to cover that hole. 

"Obviously it's disappointing for Shane. 

"Hopefully he can overcome this and have a healthy future. 

"He came to the conclusion that this was best for him and his family and his personal life, so he's definitely made the best decision for him." 

Meanwhile, Bennell returned to Fremantle Oval on Tuesday "refreshed" after travelling to Munich to work with renowned specialist Dr Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfarht. 

Bennell was sent overseas for treatment when he strained the calf muscle in his "good" left leg at training, after missing the entire 2015 campaign due to calf issues with his right leg. 

"He came in today, he walked a few laps, so he's back and he's refreshed and he's ready to go," Blakely said. 

"I had a little chat to him, he said it was pretty interesting but he enjoyed his time. 

"He said everything went really well." 

Coming off a stellar second season when he earned a NAB AFL Rising Star nomination and averaged 20 disposals from 15 games, Blakely is aiming to cement his spot in the Dockers' best 22 next season. 

The 20-year-old onballer has built his fitness over an uninterrupted pre-season to date, but knows midfield positions could be harder to come by in 2017 as players return from injury, headlined by superstar Nat Fyfe's much-anticipated comeback. 

"There was a lot of key injuries last year so I think competition for spots is going to be really healthy this year," he said.

"My main focus at the moment is building my fitness and being able to run out games a little bit better."

Hopefully he can overcome this and have a healthy future