Young Gold Coast defender Connor Budarick will make a comeback from his second knee reconstruction through the VFL on Sunday.
The 22-year-old ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in July last year and will play for the SUNS against the Northern Bullants at Genis Steel Oval at the weekend.
Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew said he was excited to see his young defender back on the field.
"There's no expectation on him for now, just go and enjoy playing footy," Dew said.
"He's missed two years of what should be a really strong career."
The SUNS Academy product hurt his ACL for the first time early in the 2021 season and then nine matches after returning in 2022, suffered the same injury on the same knee.
He was Queensland's only representative in the 2019 under-18 All-Australian team and has looked right at home in his 26 senior games.
Dew said there was no pressure to rush him back to the top level.
"He'll be a little bit rusty," Dew said.
"He's done a lot of training. His first step is to get through this game and enjoy it.
"He's an AFL-standard player. We don't want to put any timeframes on it, but I think we'll know to the eye when he's ready to come back into the AFL system."
Gold Coast plays Carlton at the MCG on Sunday coming off wins against the Western Bulldogs and Adelaide before its bye.
Dew said Sean Lemmens (hamstring) would be available to face the Blues, while Lachie Weller would miss at least another week as he battles to fully overcome swelling in his knee.
"If the players can't get excited for this week, we'd be concerned," Dew said.
"They're pretty fresh, mentally and physically, and ready to go."