Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna says Karmichael Hunt is still a valued part of the Suns' AFL set-up despite his difficult 2013 campaign.

Hunt has only made seven appearances this year for the Suns, his last AFL game coming in the round 14 loss to Adelaide in June.

The former rugby league international is battling with Michael Rischitelli to be David Swallow's replacement for this weekend's trip to Melbourne to take on St Kilda.

But McKenna conceded on Thursday the former Brisbane Lion has got his "nose ahead" of Hunt in the race to win selection for the Saints clash.

McKenna however bristled when asked if Hunt's future at the Suns was in jeopardy.

"He's on our list and he's a valued contributor to our side," he told reporters.

"He's earned every minute for his time on the field."

What McKenna did say was every one of his players needs to show they're prepared to improve - Hunt included - if they're to maintain a position at the club in seasons ahead.

"K would be the first to say in his particular case he still can't run like an elite AFL footballer yet," he said.

"He can do that for half a game, maybe three quarters of a game and that's where the evolution of our football club is.

"For us to go from seven, eight, nine wins in a season to play finals football, we can't carry anyone who can only play half a game.

"Whether it's Karmichael Hunt, whether it's Gary Ablett, whether it's Jack Martin next year, for us to get better they have to be able to run out 120 minutes of football. Everyone will be on high alert for that."

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