GOLD Coast and Essendon have the chance to stay in touch with the top eight when they clash at Metricon Stadium on Wednesday night.

The 12th-placed Suns and 11th-placed Bombers could rise as high as eighth with a big win.

FOLLOW IT LIVE Suns v Bombers

Both teams are coming into the clash desperate for victory, with the Suns losing their past three matches, and the Bombers their past two.

Their contest will close the jam-packed round 11, with round 12 firing up on Thursday with the Sydney Derby in Perth.

Essendon has opted to rest dual All-Australian defender Michael Hurley from the must-win clash. 

THE LADDER Where is your team sitting?

Hurley, who had played every other match this season, joins two-game ruckman Sam Draper in being managed, while Jacob Townsend (concussion) will also miss the Suns game. 

FULL TEAMS Check 'em out

Marty Gleeson, Tom Bellchambers and Dylan Clarke return for the Bombers, who named Jordan Ridley (ribs) despite him being in doubt after leaving the field late in Friday night's defeat to Greater Western Sydney. 

Townsend avoided a facial fracture and hopes to return for Sunday's contest with St Kilda. 

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Match Previews R11: Gold Coast v Essendon

Sportsbet's Nathan Brown and Matthew Richardson preview the game between the Suns and Bombers at Metricon Stadium

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The Suns will unveil a fifth debutant from last year's draft, with No.11 pick Sam Flanders to play his first senior game – but they've dropped 2019 leading goalkicker Alex Sexton. 

Sexton's failed to kick a goal in Gold Coast's past two matches and has just two multi-major performances this season. 

ROUNDS 11-13 Check out the full fixture

Also making way are Nick Holman (omitted) and last week's debutant, Jeremy Sharp, who's unavailable through injury. 

THE FULL INJURY LIST Who is racing the clock?

Josh Corbett will take Sexton's spot in attack in his first AFL appearances of 2020, while midfielder Brayden Fiorini is also back.