SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 09: Martin Gleeson of the Bombers handballs under pressure from Josh Kennedy of the Swans during the AFL Second Elimination Final match between the Sydney Swans and the Essendon Bombers at Sydney Cricket Ground on September 9, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Delisted Essendon backman Martin Gleeson remains hopeful of continuing his AFL career beyond this year after not being offered a new contract for the 2022 season.

The Bombers announced last week that Gleeson's time at Tullamarine had come to an end, with the 27-year-old a surplus to requirements for Ben Rutten's list.

The Koroit native first joined the red sash via the 2021 National Draft, making his AFL debut two years later and going on to play a total of 97 games with the Bombers.

With Rutten looking to steady his squad for the coming years and strengthen the club's hopes for September success, Gleeson joined Ned Cahill, David Zaharakis and Lachlan Johnson in not being offered a contract extension beyond 2021.

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Speaking to SEN this week, Gleeson stated he still has "that fire" to continue playing at the elite level despite the setback.

“That desire to be on an AFL list is still there,” Gleeson said.

“I still feel like I’ve got a lot more to give if the opportunity came my way.

“I think towards the end of this year, that fire kept burning more, getting back into the team and playing some footy, especially playing in that final, that’s what we’re here for.

“That fire is still there.”

Martin Gleeson of the Bombers is tackled during the round 23 AFL match between the Essendon Bombers and the Carlton Blues at Melbourne Cricket Ground on August 27, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Essendon have looked to rejuvenate their list for the future, including a new-look backline which will hope to take the club a step further in their push for premiership contention.

The Bombers amassed a top-eight finish this year in what was a surprising result given their list demographic and have brought in Crows free agent Jake Kelly to aid their defensive structure.

Essendon have also appointed Richmond champion Alex Rance in a development role for next season, adding to Rutten's ranks for 2022.

With Jayden Laverde enjoying a career-best season in a new role with the Bombers down back, and the future focus on top 10 pick Zach Reid, Gleeson's time with Essendon came to an end.

2020 AFL Draft Media Opportunity
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 10: Zach Reid, draft selection #10 for the Bombers poses for a photo during the NAB AFL Draft media opportunity at Marvel Stadium on December 10, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

The versatile defender joins Cale Hooker, Patrick Ambrose, Irving Mosquito and the aforementioned delisted trio in departing the Bombers this off-season.

Gleeson's axing also leaves midfielder Dylan Clarke as the only senior player yet to know where his future lies at Tullamarine.