MIDFIELDER Zach Merrett will become one of the youngest captains in VFL/AFL history when he skippers Essendon against Gold Coast at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Merrett, 20, replaces the injured Brendon Goddard, who suffered a minor groin strain last week.

He will be 20 years and 316 days when he leads out the Bombers.

It will make him the youngest Essendon captain since Tim Watson in 1982, according to the AFL's statisticians.

"It's very exciting and very overwhelming," Merrett told reporters on Thursday.

Merrett said he would talk to both Dyson Heppell and Goddard to seek advice in the lead-up to the game.

While Merrett said he'd be interested in taking the captaincy one day, he's backing Heppell for the job next season when he returns from suspension.

"It's definitely something to aspire to, but I think Dyson's the man for next year, he's been fantastic for this footy club," Merrett said.

Western Bulldogs midfielder Marcus Bontempelli became the youngest player to captain a winning side when he led the Dogs to victory over West Coast in June, at 20 years and 194 days.

It meant the Bulldogs have two titles when it comes to the youngest captains in VFL/AFL history, with former Dog and Fitzroy champion Bernie Quinlan being the youngest ever stand-in skipper.

He stood in as leader in round 18, 1971, aged 20 years and nine days, but the Bulldogs went down to Carlton by 30 points.

Merrett is only in his third season of AFL football, but was elected to the club's leadership group this year and is a strong favourite to take out the Bombers' best and fairest award.

He is averaging 28.9 disposals, 10.3 contested possessions and 6.4 tackles a game.

20 years, 231 days - Simon Madden, round 20, 1978 (acting captain)
20 years, 272 days - Tim Watson, round three, 1982 (acting captain)
20 years, 316 days – Zach Merrett, round 21, 2016 (acting captain)