RODNEY Eade has described Gary Ablett as a "phenomenon", but has kept expectations low for the champion midfielder's return to action on Saturday.
Ablett has not played since round two against St Kilda due to a shoulder injury and will run out against North Melbourne at Metricon Stadium.
Eade expected it would take the champion midfielder some time to return to his absolute best.
"I know he's a phenomenon in many ways so he'll probably slot back in seamlessly, but our expectation is just (for him to) be there and be captain," Eade said.
"(He will) give a presence to players who really look forward to him being back as an elder statesman, his experience. I think that'll help the players.
Ablett's return comes 364 days after initially dislocating his shoulder against Collingwood last season.
Following surgery, he played rounds one and two this year and was still clearly in discomfort before taking another 12 weeks to rehabilitate.
Ablett was targeted by both Melbourne and the Saints in those two games, and Eade said the dual Brownlow medallist's teammates could help him out against the Kangaroos.
"I think they can help him out like any player that gets tagged, protect him body-wise, stand in between, but I think Gary's had that before in his career and has got to a stage where he is confident enough that he'll be able to cope ok," he said.
Eade said hindsight would be the judge of how his players had been affected by the most tumultuous week in the club's history.
Gold Coast has been rocked by reports that former player Karmichael Hunt named Suns players as cocaine users, and again when photographs were released of Harley Bennell allegedly taking illicit drugs.
Eade said on the surface the players seemed fine, but he was only really guessing.
"Hopefully they can focus on the footy," he said.
"The fact is we're only human, a lot of people don't talk about their feelings much and what they're really thinking.
"We'll probably only know that in hindsight once the game finishes."