Essendon young gun Archie Perkins is ready to make his mark on the competition this year by building on his midfield impact, while the off-contract Bomber has also expressed his desire to remain in the red sash beyond 2024.

Entering his fourth campaign at Tullamarine, Perkins is poised to carve himself into a more senior role through the middle of the field as selection for spots in Brad Scott's midfield pack becomes harder to come by.

While still honing his ability forward of the ball, Perkins is keen to "have a big impact" in both areas of the field as he finds new levels of confidence in his role.

The former first-round selection has thoroughly enjoyed his summer so far, with Scott delivering a clear message to his players ahead of a crucial 2024 campaign.

"Personally, I'm in a pretty good spot," Perkins said. "I'm happy with how I've performed this pre-season and then collectively you can see that we've made some big inroads in our game and a lot of players have improved individually.

"Another pre-season under Brad has helped us to really consolidate a lot of things in our game.

"Everyone's super clear on where we needed to get better and the way we want to play, so another year with Brad at the helm to really consolidate all those things just gives us a lot of stability in that regard."

Incumbent midfield pair Zach Merrett and Darcy Parish will look to the likes of Ben Hobbs, Will Setterfield, Nic Martin, Jye Caldwell and Perkins for support in the centre, with the latter looking to stand out in the heated selection push.

Archie Perkins during the AFL match between Essendon and Adelaide, Round 4, 2022 (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media

New recruit Jade Gresham is another who will float between the forward third and the engine room, likely mirroring Perkins' role as an attacking threat who can find the ball.

While adding further midfield strengths to his tally of traits is a key goal for Perkins, fine-tuning his forward proficiencies is equally important for the 21-year-old.

"Being around the ball more has always been a goal of mine, but the ability to play both forward and mid (is important)," Perkins said.

"A lot of players are going to be in that same boat this year for us, so the ability to impact in both areas and my versatility is a strength of mine.

"I think with the pre-season I've had and the conference I've got in my game, no matter where I play on the ground I'll be able to have a big impact.

"Four years in now, I've got a pretty good handle on how to play both positions. So I think being able to move and adjust between the two should come a lot easier to me this year."

More than 20 Essendon players are still unsigned beyond this year, with Perkins arguably the club's most important retention target.

While in no rush to finalise a contract call, Perkins said he sees himself playing for the Bombers in the years to come.

"That'll sort itself out as the year plays on," the Sandy Dragons product said of his pending call.

"I'm super happy here at Essendon and have a lot of belief in the group we've got.

"I'm really keen to stay on here long-term."

Embed from Getty Images

While Perkins has hardly missed a beat since joining the Bombers - playing 62 games in three seasons - the same can't be said for his fellow 2020 draftees and teammates Zach Reid and Nik Cox.

Back and hamstring injuries have kept Reid to just eight senior games since, with multiple setbacks forcing him to the sidelines for the entirety of 2023.

Cox too has had his own complications since a full debut season, with Perkins hoping his fellow young Dons can get back to the top this season.

"I'm super pumped," Perkins said of the prospect of his fellow 2020 draft members getting a clean run this year.

"Especially Reidy. He's had a horrible run so far, so to see him out on the track every session and doing his thing (is great).

"He's a super talented player. I'm very excited to see what he can do this year, he's going to be almost like a new addition to the team.

"He's performed well through the pre-season, Coxy as well. We know how good he can be out on the field, so hopefully he gets a good run at this year."