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McKenna expecting no space for Ablett

Michael Whiting  July 26, 2013 1:59 PM

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Gary Ablett can expect a hard tag against the Blues on Saturday

It's going to be a fairly brutal game. That's what's been told to our group

GARY Ablett can expect one – and maybe two – taggers to follow him when Gold Coast plays Carlton at Metricon Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

That's the belief of Suns coach Guy McKenna as Gold Coast prepare to play the team led by his former mentor, Mick Malthouse. 

Ablett ran around untagged against Collingwood last week and did as he pleased, racking up 49 disposals and two goals in a best-on-ground performance that spearheaded an upset seven-point win.

McKenna, who played under Malthouse at West Coast and was an assistant to him at the Magpies for five years, says there will be no such luxury tomorrow.

"I've worked with Mick and taken on Gary as an opposition midfield coach before and I've seen systems that have impacted his performance," McKenna said.

"I don’t think you've beaten Gary, he's still going to get 20 or 30 (disposals), but if you can minimise the damage of those, I think that's important.

"He finds a way, and if he doesn't find a way, he makes a way."

McKenna has warned his team they can expect no favours from the Blues.

In a veiled swipe at Collingwood's tactics last week, he said the Suns were expecting to be blanketed all over the ground. 

Buckley admits tagging Ablett was the way to go

"One thing I can guarantee having played for Mick is they're going to come out hard and we're not going to have the time and space we did last week.

"It's going to be a fairly brutal game. That's what's been told to our group, the luxury of time and space you had last week, ain't going to be there this week."

McKenna said the Suns would return fire though and would be putting in time to Carlton superstar Chris Judd, who he still rated its most damaging midfielder.

Andrew Carrazzo would likely get Ablett, while Danny Stanley and Jaeger O'Meara are the front-runners to take turns on Judd and Carlton captain Marc Murphy. 

McKenna assured any daydreamers that a Judd-Ablett match-up would not be deliberately set up by the Suns.

"At some stage with rotations that may happen," McKenna said. "For football purists to come and watch the two modern day football geniuses to go at it will be fantastic."

The Suns (6-10) are still a mathematical chance of making the top-eight, and McKenna was not talking down the significance of a potential win on Saturday.

They are three wins behind eighth-placed Port Adelaide with six rounds remaining.

"That's (finals) our goal, that's our challenge. That's your dream," he said.

The Suns are sweating on the fitness of on-baller Dion Prestia (hamstring) and defender Rory Thompson (ankle).

Prestia did some jogging with the reserves, while Thompson did some light running and agility work away from the main training group on Friday morning.

Emergencies Tim Sumner and Jacob Gillbee both trained with the senior group.

Michael Whiting is a reporter for AFL Media. You can follow him on Twitter: @AFL_mikewhiting