GOLD Coast ruckman Tom Nicholls has vehemently defended Gary Ablett's leadership, saying the dual Brownlow medallist is doing everything possible to return from injury.
Ablett came under heavy criticism from Jonathan Brown on Monday night, with the former Brisbane Lions skipper saying it was time Ablett put his shoulder injury aside and got on the field.
Ablett has been sidelined since aggravating his reconstructed left shoulder in a round two loss against St Kilda.
"It’s time for Gary to stand up, and part of that is playing with injuries,” Brown said on Fox Footy.
"Obviously he’s been cleared to play, because he was cleared in round one. Doctors would not be clearing him if he wasn’t sound.
"There’s an obligation to do everything in your powers to play football ... even more so as a leader."
Nicholls defended his captain on Tuesday, saying Ablett had clearly explained to his teammates where he was at with the injury.
"Gary hasn't neglected his leadership at all," Nicholls said.
"In our eyes we've had quite a lot of intimate leadership sessions and Gary has spoken to us in depth about his injury, and how he's doing everything he can to overcome it.
"He's so professional, he'll get his body just right before he can play - he won't get it 100 per cent, but he'll get it 80 per cent, so he knows when he's out there, he's not going to let us down."
Suns coach Rodney Eade indicated at the weekend Ablett would be most likely to return following Gold Coast's round 12 bye.