GEELONG coach Chris Scott says Gary Ablett must come to grips with whether he remains motivated to play at the highest level as a call looms on his AFL future.
Ablett met with Scott and list manager Stephen Wells on Monday, with the Cats turning their focus to next season after their preliminary final defeat to Richmond.
The 35-year-old has yet to publicly declare his intentions after a campaign in which he started strongly but his form dipped towards the end.
Scott said he hoped the two-time Brownlow Medallist would continue on for a 19th season but only under the right circumstances.
"If he decides, or even if he's not sure, that he can do it, if he doesn't quite have the belief that he can help us win a premiership next year, he should retire," Scott told Fox Footy.
AFL TRADE HUB All the latest news
"That's the decision that I think he's coming to grips with.
"Now if he thinks he can do it, then we've got a bit to talk about and I look forward to that.
"I hope it's that way."
Scott said Ablett had to be prepared for what might happen if his form dropped off.
"Can he come to terms with how it might look if it doesn't go as well as we're all hoping?," Scott pondered.
"That's an unfortunate reality that we might have to face. You hope it never happens but there should be an understanding that if it does, we're all going to handle it well.
"But it's always easier to say in September or October, a lot harder to deliver on in July or August."
WHO'S HANGING UP THE BOOTS? Your club's retirements and delistings
Scott noted that all list management decisions involved extensive debate, rejecting the idea that the ball was squarely in Ablett's court.
"It doesn't work that way," he said.
"It's always a decision amongst a few key people, where your list is at and all those sorts of things."
The Cats appear likely to lose Tim Kelly, who gathered 31 disposals and booted three goals to be comfortably their best player in Friday night's finals loss.
Kelly is expected to again request a trade to West Coast but Scott reaffirmed on Monday that Geelong would fight to retain the star midfielder.