ESSENDON'S stand-in captain Brendon Goddard remains unsigned for next year but the club and his management group are edging closer to a new deal.

The Bombers midfielder's four-year deal – which he signed when crossing to the club from St Kilda – expires at the end of this season.

The 31-year-old has played every game for Essendon this year and taken on the captaincy in the absence of suspended Brownlow medallist Jobe Watson.

Goddard's manager Craig Kelly, of TLA Australia, said he was due to catch up with the Bombers' list management team in the next two weeks to progress talks.

He said Essendon was starting to get more clarity around its list structure for next season as it worked through the unprecedented situation of retaining players serving anti-doping bans.

"Both parties are keen to have some further conversations, and I understand there's some clear air in understanding where they're at with their list. 'BJ' wants to get this sorted and wants to see this thing through," Kelly told

"Hopefully both of us [the club and management] can get it to the level we're comfortable with."

The length of his next contract is expected to be a significant part of the talks, with Goddard keen for a two-year extension.

Despite being one of Essendon's most senior players he has been extremely durable in his time at the club, playing 78 of a possible 81 games in nearly four full seasons.

He won Essendon's best and fairest in his first season in 2013 – which was also the first best and fairest of his career – and will be due to play his 300th game midway through next season.

His whole career at Essendon has been clouded by the supplements saga, which began in February 2013 just weeks before he first ran out for the club in the pre-season competition.

Six of the 12 currently-listed Essendon players serving WADA bans have either re-signed or recommitted to return next year, with captain Jobe Watson, Michael Hurley, Michael Hibberd, Brent Stanton, Ben Howlett and Tayte Pears yet to announce their intentions for 2017.

Goddard headlines a group of 17 players on Essendon's list (outside the banned players) who are out of contract at the end of this season.

Brownlow medallist Adam Cooney, second-year forward Jayden Laverde, and defenders Martin Gleeson, Patrick Ambrose and Courtenay Dempsey are also unsigned. 

Rookie revelation Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti is out of contract but is expected to be elevated to the senior list with a new deal.