GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 15: Gary Ablett of the Suns lines up a kick for goal during the round one AFL match between the Gold Coast Suns and the Richmond Tigers at Metricon Stadium on March 15, 2014 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Gold Coast coach Rodney Eade has indicated Gary Ablett will spend a lot more time in the forward line in 2017.

Ablett, who has suffered a wretched run with injuries over the past three years, playing just 33 of a possible 66 games due to serious shoulder and knee issues, will spend less time in the midfield, as the Suns aim to develop a new breed of midfielders, while also giving his shoulder the opportunity to completely recover.

Eade told SEN radio on Wednesday morning, he expects Ablett, who he says will spend around 60 per cent of game time in the forward line this season, to cause a plethora of headaches for opposition defenders.

“He’s done all his match-simulation, even though his shoulder isn’t right to do total contact, as a forward,” Eade said.

“I still think he’s a very good midfielder, but if he plays as a permanent forward, he’d kick 50 or 60 (goals), I would have thought.

“If you’re a defender on him, you’d be twitching like anything.

“His ability to read the ball and be in the right spot, is as good as I have ever seen.”

The veteran coach also admitted it is time for the club to not rely too heavily on the former Cats star.

“We have to go past Gary…you can’t rely on one player – if you’ve got 22 players and you’re playing in a final – you can’t rely on one player. As good as he is, and as good as he was,” he said.

Eade revealed he was not aware of Ablett’s trade request until the story emerged in the media, and remained adamant the club handled the situation well.

“I didn’t know about it at the time, to be honest,” he said.

“(I found out) once it all broke ­— it was coming out (in the media) and a few people at the club said, ‘look this is going to happen’.

“I think Pickers, his manager, mentioned it in the media that it was just a question he asked, and we obviously wanted to keep it as private as possible, but there were some things he spoke about to (recruiting manager) Scott Clayton and (football manager) Marcus Ashcroft that were personal ­­— so it was separate to the club.

“This has been mashed together and I think people have got to respect that there are some things in his life he wants to sort out and help some people.”