Gold Coast coach Rodney Eade has no doubts about Gary Ablett’s on-going value and backs him to be firing from the start of the 2017 AFL season.
Ablett is set to visit a surgeon next week after suffering a season-ending injury to his reconstructed left shoulder in last weekend’s win over Brisbane.
It’s the third year in a row the Suns’ captain has had his year cut short by injury.
Ablett’s increasing injury toll has led to speculation the Suns might be better off trading the 32-year-old superstar to free up funds to retain off-contract stars such as Jaeger O’Meara or Dion Prestia.
But Eade is having none of it, saying he has no long-term concerns over his skipper’s physical state.
“He’ll be fully fit when he gets back,” Eade said.
“His performances this year have been good by normal midfielder standards … the main thing with players in footy, it’s the legs, once their legs go they really struggle.
“His legs are fine. He’s still got that speed, still going to get fit enough. He’ll be fine.”
Ablett’s injury and a season-ending knee injury to Michael Rischitelli in the same match mean Eade will again be searching for players to fill his midfield for Saturday’s clash with the Western Bulldogs in Cairns.
With Prestia (knee) also to miss the Bulldogs game, Eade could be forgiven for rushing back O’Meara into the senior team.
The 2013 Rising Star has been making his return from a serious knee injury in the reserves and will play a full match for the first time this weekend in Sydney.
But Eade says he’s resisting the temptation to push O’Meara back before he’s fully ready.
“We’re not going to compromise his health,” Eade said.
“I think that’s a short-term view to do that. If he needs another week, needs another two weeks, well that’s what he does.
“We’ve got to do what’s best for him.”