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Michael Whiting  February 21, 2016 8:27 PM

Mathieson pushing for early selection Brisbane Lions coach Justin Leppitsch speaks to the media after his side's loss to Gold Coast

DION Prestia and Jack Martin will return for Gold Coast's next NAB Challenge match against West Coast after missing the pre-season opener against the Brisbane Lions on Sunday.

Prestia (knee) and Martin (back) will play in a weakened Suns team against the Eagles on March 3 as coach Rodney Eade decides to rest up to eight players for the long trip to Joondalup, 30km north of Perth.

Full match coverage and stats

Running defenders Adam Saad and Jarrod Harbrow, who also missed the 25-point win over the Lions, will also play West Coast as the Suns rest Tom Lynch, Steven May, Rory Thompson, Nick Malceski and Michael Rischitelli.

Skipper Gary Ablett will return in week three of the NAB Challenge.

"It's a big trip, six hours, and we play there again in four weeks time and it's just not worth it," Eade said.

"It'll be hot as well, so we'll take an inexperienced side."

Prestia's return will strengthen a midfield that shone against the Lions, led by Jesse Lonergan, Aaron Hall and Rischitelli.

While the midfield appears to be getting deeper and deeper, the battle for the second tall forward spot alongside Tom Lynch appears to be hotting up.

Towering second-year prospect Peter Wright impressed against the Lions, showing improved strength, mobility and an ability to keep his feet.

Eade said he slightly took the points over Sam Day, but the pair would battle for the spot until round one.

"It's not against the grain that we'll play both, but in an ideal world they'd be fighting for one spot," he said.

"I'll have to look at the tape again but I thought Pete looked more dangerous.

"Sam didn't have a big influence I didn't think, but I thought he competed OK and tried well, it just didn't work for him today.

"They'll both play next game and we'll make an assessment from there."

Lions coach Justin Leppitsch has similar headaches after his talls failed to fire in blustery conditions.

"It's going to be a work in progress because they're all new," Leppitsch said.

"(Josh) Schache, (Eric) Hipwood and (Josh) Walker are all new and Jono (Freeman) has only played a handful of games as well.

"It'll be a work in progress whether we play three all the time or two with one off and one a bit higher.

"We've got all those things we're slowing working out. The next couple of weeks will determine that."

Leppitsch said he was impressed with draftee Rhys Mathieson after his 13-disposal (seven contested) performance.

"He wants the footy and he wants to get involved. He's one that will be pushing early in the season to get a game."