MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 20: Harry McKay of the Blues celebrates a goal during the round 18 AFL match between the Carlton Blues and the Gold Coast Suns at Marvel Stadium on July 20, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

It may only be February but the work players put in over the pre-season has a significant impact on how they perform when the real stuff comes around

Essendon legend Matthew Lloyd has named 11 players who he believes are primed to have big 2021 campaigns – which he dubbed ‘February Flyers’ – based on their exciting form over the summer.

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Speaking on Sportsday, Lloyd ran through his players spread across six clubs – the Western Bulldogs, Carlton, North Melbourne, St Kilda, Essendon and the Gold Coast.

Aaron Naughton headlines Lloyd’s ‘February Flyers’, sharing some insights he heard from one of the rising star’s teammates.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 07: Aaron Naughton of the Bulldogs celebrates a goal during the 2019 AFL round 03 match between the Western Bulldogs and the Gold Coast Suns at Marvel Stadium on April 07, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos/Getty Images)

Naughton booted 15 goals from 12 games last year, missing a chunk of the season due to a syndesmosis injury.

“I was at a function and a Western Bulldogs player was there, I won’t say who he was,” Lloyd said.

“He said Aaron Naughton in training has been unstoppable. I think he could be an outstanding centre-half back but forward is where they need him.

“They said that in one of the games he played … in three quarters of footy had 24 disposals, 14 marks and kicked five goals – and he took a mark that they believe would have been Mark of the Year.

“It’s exciting.”

Lloyd forecasts a dangerous Blues forward line with both Harry McKay and Zac Fisher also featuring on his list.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 14: Zac Fisher of the Blues kicks a goal during the round four AFL match between the Gold Coast Suns and the Carlton Blues at Metricon Stadium on April 14, 2019 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

McKay is set to be the focal point again in attack with Charlie Curnow (knee) out for an extended period, while Lloyd believes Fisher could overtake Eddie Betts as the club’s number one small forward.

“Another key forward who kicked five goals for Carlton last week was Harry McKay,” Lloyd said.

“They cry out for a small forward at Carlton and I’m told that Zac Fisher has been told, ‘you’re a small forward, that’s where you’re going to play’ and he has had a wonderful pre-season.

“I don’t know what that means for Eddie Betts, but Zac Fisher, at the feet, has been looking dangerous and as a lively forward as they’ve had in a long, long time.”

Lloyd is also excited by emerging Kangaroos Nick Larkey and Bailey Scott as well as recruit Jaidyn Stephenson, and Gold Coast’s ever-improving engine room with Noah Anderson, Ben Ainsworth and Will Brodie.

Check out the full list below of players Lloyd believes are primed for big 2021 seasons!

Lloyd’s ‘February Flyers’

Aaron Naughton (Western Bulldogs)
Harry McKay and Zac Fisher (Carlton)
Nick Larkey, Jaidyn Stephenson and Bailey Scott (North Melbourne)
Jack Sinclair (St Kilda)
Nik Cox (Essendon)
Noah Anderson, Ben Ainsworth and Will Brodie (Gold Coast)