DION Prestia's odds of playing in round one against Essendon appear to be lengthening.
The Gold Coast midfielder tweaked his left knee five weeks ago and hasn't taken part in a match simulation session since.
Prestia has completed a good chunk of running though, and will hopefully rejoin the main group in the coming days, but the clock is ticking.
Coach Rodney Eade said his vice-captain was "pushing hard" to play the Bombers on March 26 and was still hopeful the midfielder would line up.
But all pre-season, the Suns have taken the conservative line on their players, and without an NAB Challenge match under his belt, Prestia is fighting an uphill battle.
Captain Gary Ablett's foot niggle is almost behind him, with the dual Brownlow medallist completing a power of running in the past week.
Kade Kolodjashnij (calf) and Jesse Lonergan (ankle) did not play the final pre-season match against Adelaide last Friday night, but should take their places against the Bombers.
Both have barely missed a beat in the pre-season and will resume match simulation training in the coming days.
There was a chance one – or both – might have played against Aspley in a NEAFL practice match on Saturday, but Eade said this would not be necessary.
Fourteen players will play in the NEAFL match though, after the Suns were granted permission by the AFL for them to take the field.
Former Bulldog Jarrad Grant will play his first game in Suns colours after recovering from a broken wrist.
Rookies Ryan Davis and Tom Keough will continue to battle for an upgrade once David Swallow (knee) is put on the long-term injury list.