GOLD Coast coach Stuart Dew says he'll look to employ veteran Pearce Hanley through the midfield this season as he makes good strides in his comeback from injury.
The Gaelic import broke his hand in November's AFL international series opener in Adelaide against Australia, instilling fears he wouldn't be ready to go for Round 1.
But Dew said the former Brisbane Lions mainstay was ready to return before Christmas, with the club taking the safe option and reintroducing him following the break.
Hanley has played 10 seasons of AFL and shapes as one of Dew's go-to senior players in the wake of marquee man Gary Ablett's return to Geelong.
"Experience," Dew said when asked what Hanley would bring to the table.
"I think he has a really good mentality towards playing the game; I'll lean on him a fair bit with his resilience down back, but I also think he's worth a look in the midfield at times as well, because his decision-making and hand to foot skills are fantastic.
"He's an experienced campaigner, he's in good condition and I look forward to working with him in the ball skills."
Dew said Michael Barlow (broken leg) and Sam Day (dislocated hip) were also tracking well in their returns from serious injuries while Callum Ah Chee's recent broken hand was keeping him on light duties.
Those injury concerns, and the inevitability of more to come, mean he hasn't started thinking about his best squad yet and is still to see what every play is capable of.
"I start to look, but because there's a full list It's quite hard and so much will happen between now and then (round one)," he said.
"Try not to waste too much time on it because things change in one or two days.
"What I am pleased with, and what I keep telling the lads, is that it's going to be hard to pick a team if we keep tracking like we are."
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