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Suns rookie Dragan Bender expected to play handful of remaining games

Phoenix Suns forward Dragan Bender (35) drives against Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles in the second quarter during an NBA basketball game, Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
LISTEN: Ryan McDonough, Suns' General Manager

The Phoenix Suns are hopeful rookie Dragan Bender can play at least four or five of the remaining games in the 2016-17 season after a return from ankle surgery, general manager Ryan McDonough told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Burns and Gambo show on Wednesday.

“He’s also progressing well from his ankle injury and at this point, we are projecting him to come back and play at some point over the next couple of weeks,” the GM said.

“I think the last four or five games is a reasonable target as long as the rehab continues to go well and he continues to improve.”

The Suns have seven games left on the schedule.

They play Thursday at home against the Clippers and Saturday in Portland before returning home for a four-game homestand against Houston (Sunday), Golden State (April 5), Oklahoma City (April 7) and Dallas (April 9). The season ends April 11 at Sacramento.

Bender underwent surgery to remove bone spurs on Feb. 8 and has missed 26 games.

Originally projected to miss four to six weeks, the Croatian 19-year-old has worked out on the court prior to Sunday’s game against the Charlotte Hornets and Tuesday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks.

The Suns have been shorthanded of late with Devin Booker (ankle) and Leandro Barbosa (hamstring) sitting out due to minor injuries in the loss to Atlanta that closed a winless six-game road trip on Tuesday.

“I think we’ll get some or all those guys back hopefully over the next week or so,” McDonough told Burns and Gambo.

Keeping one healthy body available, Phoenix on Wednesday re-signed Jarell Eddie to his second 10-day contract.

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