STUART Dew says Alex Sexton still has an important role to play for Gold Coast in 2021, despite the Suns sharpshooter being dropped for a third time inside 12 months.
Sexton was the unused medical sub in last Saturday's win over Sydney, making way for impressive second-year forward Sam Flanders.
He was dropped twice in the second half of the 2020 season as well, before finishing with 10 goals in his final four games.
Sexton, 27, kicked six goals in the opening five rounds of the season, averaging nine disposals and less than one tackle a game, before being omitted again.
"It's unfortunate for Secco but he was also aware we wanted to change the mix," Dew said following the week's main training session on Wednesday.
"The guys that played got the job done, so it's likely we'll look to reward those guys.
"He still will be (important).
"We anticipate he'll come back in and have an influence."
It's been a difficult period for Sexton, who was part of the Suns' leadership group last season before losing that role in a streamlined four-man model this year.
Dew said he was weighing up whether to use the 139-game veteran as the sub again when Gold Coast plays Collingwood at the MCG on Saturday.
"We've got some young players that haven't played yet that potentially could be the sub, but in an ideal world for us they'd come into the 22, that's why Secco played 23rd," Dew said.
"He might be that again because fitness will not be an issue with Alex.
"He'll want to go back and get some form if he's not playing, but also we're aware if he's a sub coming on, he's pretty handy for us."
Flanders was one of many standout Suns last week, gathering 17 disposals, laying three tackles and finishing with 31 pressure acts – the third highest on the field – in his best game for the club.
Dew said his team's challenge against the Magpies was to replicate the effort.
"They're number one for contested possession percentage, that's their game and what they pride themselves on," he said.
"You only have to listen to Nathan (Buckley) in the media, it's what he talks about and we'll expect nothing less on the weekend."