GOLD COAST has turned the corner after its disastrous start to the season, coach Rodney Eade says.
And the Suns should be boosted after next weekend's bye with the return of stars Gary Ablett (shoulder) and Steven May (knee) from injury.
The Suns put in their best performance of the season against Fremantle on Saturday, pushing the competition leader until the final minute before succumbing by seven points.
Despite a nightmare injury toll that has accounted for most of its elite talent, Gold Coast has been terrific in the past three weeks against heavyweights Hawthorn, the Sydney Swans and now Fremantle.
Eade said he can feel the tide turning, with players now "buying in" to the message he's preaching.
"They've seen the light about where we're headed, what we're trying to achieve and guys are buying in across the board," Eade said.
"They've actually gone another step today. I think it's cemented ‘OK, we can play'.
"It's team first, second and third. It's not about Tom Lynch or Gary Ablett, they've got to fit into the way we want to play."
Eade said he was most pleased with the first, second and third-year players, who were driving the turnaround in attitude.
Adam Saad and Touk Miller have been first-year revelations, while Kade Kolodjashnij, Jack Leslie, Alex Sexton and Henry Schade have also developed rapidly in recent weeks.
Aside from Ablett and May's expected return against Carlton in round 13, Eade said David Swallow (knee) and Rory Thompson (hip flexor) would likely return through the NEAFL.
"We can't make the finals, so we've got to retrieve something out of the last half of the year," he said.
"We've had so many injuries and on top of that it's easy to lose hope and lose faith and ask ‘What are we doing?’ but to the players' credit, they've stayed upbeat.
"Overall they can see it's a corner and I think they've turned it."
Utility Danny Stanley has suffered a medial ligament injury to his knee and will be sidelined for anywhere from four to eight weeks, Eade said.