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The Midfield Form

Jacob Allison

Tall wingman developed nicely in his first season. Allison played the final five games and caught the eye with his speed, ability to mark overhead and long kicking. Should play plenty of senior footy this season.

Zac Bailey

Taken with the club's second pick in last year's national draft – 15th overall – Bailey has slotted in nicely in his first pre-season. He is blessed with blinding speed and an ability to weave through traffic.

Ryan Bastinac

Breathed life into his career in the second half of last season. Was dropped by coach Chris Fagan early on and responded superbly, improving his defensive running and going forward to be a reliable goalkicker. Will have to earn his spot this season, though.

Dayne Beams

Back to his best last year with a mix of inside ball-winning and outside class. Beams had off-season shoulder surgery but recovered well and is as fit as ever. Despite missing both pre-season matches due to the passing of his father, the skipper should again be the midfield heartbeat in 2018.

Tom Bell

After being dropped and breaking his ankle mid-season, 2017 was a year to forget. However, the hulking utility has shown glimpses in the JLT Series that he's taken coach Fagan's advice on board, leading the team in contested football and using his aerobic power to outwork opponents. In a battle for a senior spot.

In his return to football during JLT, Bell impressed in wet conditions.

Jarrod Berry

Another of the young Lions to impress last season. Berry tagged some of the game's best players and showed an ability to win the inside ball and mix it with much stronger bodies. A future leader of the club.

Rohan Bewick

Fell out of the team late in the season and faces a big job to win a spot back. Bewick usually plays wing or half-forward and is a strong runner with a huge leap.

Cedric Cox

Showed glimpses of what he could do in his eight games last year. Cox can play a number of positions, using his speed and exceptional skills off both feet.

Ryan Lester

The quiet achiever of the group, Lester is again in the leadership group after a top-10 best and fairest finish last year. Has played as a spare in defence, as a marking option forward but generally does his best work in the clinches.

Corey Lyons

Spent last year in the NEAFL and the club was delighted with his development. A real inside ball winner with clean hands, it wouldn't surprise to see him get a senior call-up this year.

Stefan Martin

Age doesn't seem to be slowing down the veteran ruckman. Martin is now 31 and with serious challenges from Archie Smith and Oscar McInerney has put in a huge pre-season. A solid tap-ruckman with a big leap, Martin is a terrific link player around the ground when he cuts down his turnovers.

Stef Martin is in impressive form as he moves into the veteran class.

Rhys Mathieson

Entering his third season, Mathieson would be hoping to take the inside midfield spot vacated by Tom Rockliff. He's a bull around the contest and has worked on his running power but will have to improve his consistency across four quarters to win a regular spot.

Hugh McCluggage 

Is the player nominated by many around the Lions to have a breakthrough season. The No.3 pick from the 2016 draft had a strong first year, and after adding size to his lean frame, is now ready to mix it up in a more central role.

Oscar McInerney

The towering ruckman has progressed rapidly and is seriously challenging Archie Smith as the backup option to Stefan Martin. McInerney stands 204cm and is improving his marking ability in the forward 50.

Archie Smith

Now in his fifth season, Smith is itching to unseat Stefan Martin as the No.1 ruck option. Has great strength and a terrific leap, but just needs to improve his work-rate around the ground. The ruck battle will be fascinating this season.

Brandon Starcevich

The nephew of AFLW coach Craig, Brandon has made a strong impression in his first pre-season. The West Australian is tall (187cm) for a midfielder and is excellent around the stoppages. He'll likely spend most of the year developing in the NEAFL.

Dayne Zorko

The pocket rocket has developed into one of the most dynamic players in the AFL. Fresh off his first All Australian selection and third best and fairest, the 29-year-old has blinding speed, can win his own ball, kick goals and has a great defensive presence. 

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs