GOLD Coast has been dealt a further blow ahead of Saturday's game against Richmond, with running defender Oleg Markov in health and safety protocols.
But it could help open the door for the return of Jack Lukosius from a knee injury.
Markov's absence adds to a catalogue of defenders now on the sidelines as the Suns prepare to face one of the quickest forward lines in the competition.
Connor Budarick (knee), Lachie Weller (knee) and Wil Powell (ankle) are all regulars in the backline and already out for the season.
Versatile Jy Farrar is due out of health and safety protocols on Wednesday after missing Saturday's loss to Collingwood but will have to prove his health and fitness in coming days.
Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew, fresh off signing a new two-year deal, said the team couldn't afford to focus on who was unavailable.
"Sometimes you pick your AFL-standard players, and they can fit multiple positions," Dew said.
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"That's one thing we have worked at in recent years, is guys that can play multiple positions, because injuries happen, and we've got to be ready for it.
"We can't sit there and rock back and forward in the corner about it. We've got to get on with it."
Lukosius missed six weeks with a PCL injury and returned through the VFL last weekend, gathering 10 disposals and taking three marks.
He can play in defence or could also win selection on a wing if Dew wants to move Brandon Ellis or David Swallow into the back 50.
"He's a big chance," Dew said of Lukosius.
"He played in the VFL and in his own words was a little bit rusty.
"He's not far away. It could be this week. If he trains the house down he'll be well in the mix."