He’s the first to admit North Melbourne’s thrashing on the Gold Coast was “not on” but David Noble is adamant better days are ahead for his AFL club.

The Kangaroos were smashed by 59 points at Metricon Stadium on Saturday, leaving them 0-2 after a 52-point hiding by Port Adelaide in the opening round last weekend.

Noble said his team had performed in “bits and pieces” against the Suns but their overall performance wasn’t acceptable.

The coach did however highlight a successful return from a calf injury by rugged midfielder Jed Anderson as a positive.

The 27-year-old was North’s standout player, making 14 tackles and gathering 27 disposals, including 17 contested possessions.

Noble says his team’s engine room will be further bolstered by Ben Cunnington who is set to play in the Good Friday clash with the Western Bulldogs after overcoming concussion issues.

“We’ve got some good soldiers coming back,” Noble said.

“Cunnington will be right next week. Luke McDonald’s a couple of weeks away. Trent Dumont’s continuing to sort of try and get going.

“In the next few weeks we hope that we’ll be able to put a bit more rigour around those young ones that we’ve got that are learning the caper really well.”

Noble said he was pleased with how his young players had started the season.

“We’ll be able to add some more support around those guys, particularly in the middle. That’s a really good sign for us going forward,” he said.

A less encouraging sign is ankle injuries to Jack Mahony and captain Jack Ziebell.

Mahony limped off late in the fourth quarter and was subbed out for Aaron Hall while Ziebell spent much of the third term on the sidelines before returning to play out the game.

“We were wondering whether or not we were actually going to sub him out at one stage,” Noble said of Ziebell.

“The doctor needed to take him back down to the rooms to re-strap him … he came back on and he was fine.

“As your skippers and your leaders tend to do, they want to come out and lead from the front so credit to him for getting back on the paddock for us.”

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