ADELAIDE

Established gun: Veteran Bryce Gibbs has been training like a player with a point to prove. In and out of the side several times last season, the 30-year-old is intent on making a strong impression under new senior coach Matthew Nicks, whether that's playing in the midfield or across half-back next year.

Gen next: After playing eight games in his debut season, 19-year-old Chayce Jones is set to take another step up next year. Jones won the club's 2km time trial in November despite putting on a few kilograms of muscle during the off-season. Likely to start across half-forward, but most exciting as a midfielder.

Chayce Jones is set to take another step up in 2020. Picture: AFL Photos

New faces: Ruck/forward Billy Frampton has made every post a winner since joining the Crows in search of more senior opportunities. Played more as a key forward at Port Adelaide, the Crows believe 200cm Frampton can be a genuine ruck option with his leaping ability and competitiveness in the middle, but he's also more than capable of taking contested marks inside 50 and is a great set shot for goal. – Lee Gaskin

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BRISBANE

Established gun: Look no further than the captain Dayne Zorko. A heap of Brisbane players are super-fit – and have been with a relatively uninterrupted three to four years – but despite being on the cusp of turning 31, Zorko is showing no sign of slowing down. He is among the best three endurance runners on the list, still has his explosive speed in football drills and looks set for another big season in 2020.

Captain Dayne Zorko has hit the ground running at the Lions. Picture: AFL Photos

Gen next: Keep an eye out for Brandon Starcevich. About to enter his third season, the West Australian is running well and is noticeably stronger. As dedicated as any player on the list, the 20-year-old ditched an off-season overseas holiday to stay with family in the west and prepare for the upcoming season as well as he could.

New faces: After an injury-plagued 2019 with Gold Coast, Callum Ah Chee has hit the ground running at the Lions. Has fitted in nicely to the backline drills, looking sharp with his speed and skills, and is mid-pack in the aerobic running. - Michael Whiting

CARLTON

Established gun: After an injury-interrupted 2019, where he missed six weeks with concussion and two with a fractured larynx, defender Liam Jones hasn't missed a beat this summer. He returned early to pre-season training, working with the younger players, and has been on the track every day since. He looks leaner and is moving smoothly, with the club tipping him for a big year next season.

Gen next: Blues officials were pleasantly surprised with the output of Will Setterfield in 2019, having arrived at the club with no pre-season under his belt after returning from a ruptured ACL. Now enjoying a full summer of work, the big-bodied midfielder is turning heads at Carlton training. The powerful 21-year-old has stacked on plenty of upper-body weight and looks primed to move into an inside role alongside Patrick Cripps next season.

New faces: Having arrived at Carlton a little bit later than he might have liked through the pre-season draft, Jack Martin (pictured below) has hit the ground running at Ikon Park. The Blues believe the former Suns player will be used in attack next season, where his speed and class will add a new dimension to the club's forward line. Promisingly, his tackling pressure and intensity at the contest is also already impressing a host of his new Blues teammates. - Riley Beveridge

COLLINGWOOD

Established gun: No surprises that skipper Scott Pendlebury is looking a million bucks – he always has. But the fact he continues to set the standard despite being the Magpies' oldest player – he'll be 32 on January 7 – is remarkable, and partly explains his greatness. Returned to training early as usual to work with the youngsters.

Gen next: Promising Tyler Brown was close to making his AFL debut this year and continues to take significant strides in his development, both in his physique and as a midfielder. The lean onballer improved his 2km time trial considerably and has impressed with his sure hands and onball craft work. 

New faces: The Pies' first pick in the draft, Jay Rantall (pictured below), wowed watchers when he dethroned time trial specialist Tom Phillips, but he made it clear at a press conference that he was keen to impress with his footy skills and not simply his athletic prowess. Although he still has much to learn, the former basketballer has already shown in training drills he can match it physically with more experienced midfielders. - Ben Collins

ESSENDON

Established Gun: Devon Smith is back in training and it's a delight to see for Essendon fans. The hard-edged Bomber was desperately missed last season after succumbing to a knee injury, but he has regained his fitness, speed and tenacity and has been showing genuine intensity on the track. He will be a welcome addition to the Bombers' midfield and forward half next year.

Gen Next: Darcy Parish will take confidence out of the way he finished last season, with the ball-getter getting genuine midfield time in the second half of the year and becoming a key player at the stoppages. He has started his pre-season in strong touch as well, impressing those at Essendon with his energy and midfield craft.  

New Faces: Former Lion Tom Cutler has caught the eye at Essendon since arriving from Brisbane during the Telstra AFL Trade Period. His athleticism and speed off half-back or on the wing was what attracted the Bombers to Cutler, and he has shown that on the track. New Bomber Jacob Townsend is an aggressive beast and has been willing to take that physicality on the track after leaving Richmond. – Callum Twomey

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FREMANTLE

Established gun: Will a new position reinvigorate forward Cam McCarthy after an up-and-down 2019? McCarthy returned to pre-season in great shape and is now training with the midfield group, with new Dockers coach Justin Longmuir keen to use the 24-year-old's running prowess and kicking skills on the wing.

Gen next: Former No.2 draft pick Andrew Brayshaw is primed to take his game to another level in his third AFL season. The 20-year-old finished second to the impressive Brett Bewley in last month's 2km time trial and is tipped to spend more time in the engine room in season 2020.

New faces: Ex-Collingwood defender James Aish has reunited with former Pies assistant coach Longmuir and is keen to make a vacant wing position his own. He started his pre-season early and has been a standout on the track. Former Saint Blake Acres has also turned heads since returning to WA. - Chris Correia

Could Cam McCarthy reinvent himself on a wing next season? Picture: fremantlefc.com.au

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GEELONG

Established gun: It's been a dreadful few years with injury for Nakia Cockatoo, but there is now genuine optimism the classy midfielder will have an extended run in the senior team. The former top-10 draft pick has been moving smoothly throughout pre-season after playing just 13 games in the last three seasons and appears set to add a valuable point of difference to an already strong Geelong onball group. Watch out for him in 2020. 

Gen next: Despite missing out on senior selection in 2019, the Cats are tipping young forward Nathan Kreuger for a breakout season. Able to play at either end of the field, the 196cm key-position option is training with the forwards group this summer. After a solid year in the VFL, he could provide the perfect foil for Tom Hawkins and Esava Ratugolea in attack. 

New faces: It's been a strong summer for high-profile recruit Jack Steven. He is building his running loads as he aims for a return to a midfield role with the Cats next season, having played predominantly forward in 2019. After playing just seven games last year, the experienced Steven looms as a bargain buy at Kardinia Park and could provide important burst from stoppages next season. - Riley Beveridge

New Cat Jack Steven has impressed in his short time at Geelong. Picture: AFL Photos

GOLD COAST

Established gun: The usual suspects have trained at a high level – Jarrod Witts and Touk Miller leading the way – but the man that revived his career in 2019 and has continued into this pre-season is key forward Sam Day. A hamstring niggle has stifled his progress, but Day has stripped even more weight and is down below 100kg for the first time since his draft year. His speed off the mark and jump at the ball have been eye-catching.

Forward Sam Day has impressed onlookers during the pre-season so far. Picture: AFL Photos

Gen next: If the first six weeks of Ben Ainsworth's pre-season is any indication of the 2020 he has in store, look out. The No.4 pick from the 2016 NAB AFL Draft has never had an extended run without niggly injuries – with knee and foot problems hampering his 2019 – in his three seasons to date. However, after a personal best in the 2km time trial and plenty of evidence of his explosive speed and evasion on show at training, he's set for extended midfield minutes next year.

New faces: While his fellow draftees have only recently arrived, Connor Budarick got an early start – via Gold Coast's ability to pre-sign Academy players – and has made the most of it. The under-18 All Australian looks a readymade AFL player and has turned heads with his gameplay. Playing largely at half-back, Budarick has been composed with the ball and desperate without it – as evidenced by multiple rundown tackles. - Michael Whiting

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

Established Gun: New captain Stephen Coniglio is in full training after suffering a season-ending knee injury in round 17. The star midfielder did a power of work with ex-skipper Callan Ward (knee) while unsuccessfully trying to get back for the finals, so he's primed for the new year. Ward is also looking strong after his ACL surgery in April.

New Giants captain Stephen Coniglio is back in full training after his knee injury. Picture: AFL Photos

Gen Next: Second-year midfielder Jye Caldwell had to overcome some early injury worries in his debut season but managed to play two games late in the year. He's begun the summer well and looks ready to push his established teammates for more senior opportunities in 2020.

New Faces: Experienced ruckman Sam Jacobs turned up to his third club early for pre-season training and is already having an impact on the younger Giants. The former Blues and Crows big man has easily settled into the GWS culture and is sure to help his new club on and off the field. – Adam Curley

2019'S BIGGEST STORIES We count down the top 50 stories of the year 50-41

HAWTHORN

Established Gun: It might get forgotten but Chad Wingard started his first pre-season at Waverley Park last year really well, and it wasn't until later the soft-tissue problems began. Wingard averaged almost 27 disposals in the final month of 2019 – once he got his body right – then resumed his pre-season in early November with the first-to-fourth-year crop. Set to spend more time in the midfield than forward next year.

Gen Next: Untried forward Mat Walker kicked 13 goals in a four-week span in the VFL late last season and was already a man-child when he turned up at the club, out of the Giants' Academy. Walker is sporting a more chiselled frame this summer and could come into calculations at some point, even though the Hawks love to make their kids wait. He's 188cm and boasts excellent aerial ability.

New Faces: Former Giant Jon Patton started pre-season training ahead of schedule with the first-to-fourth-year players and is visibly lighter but still looks as strong as an ox. It's been 17 months since Patton suffered the third serious knee injury of his AFL career, and barring a setback he'll be an excellent round one addition in attack. – Marc McGowan

Jon Patton is looking lean ahead of 2020 season. Picture: AFL Photos

MELBOURNE

Established gun: Captain courageous Jack Viney (pictured below) has been desperate for continuity and appears to be finding some this summer. After a frustrating few years plagued by niggling foot injuries, the inside midfield bull has attacked pre-season training from day one. His ferocious attack on the footy has been a standout feature of Melbourne's off-season to date, with Viney dominating in a small sample of match simulation drills. 

Gen next: The Demons were keen to bolster their small forward stocks over the off-season and recruited Kysaiah Pickett with the 12th selection in the NAB AFL Draft. But keep an eye on rookie Kade Chandler early next season. The diminutive 176cm forward is a livewire in attack, loves to pressure opposition defenders and has good smarts around goal. He's demonstrated those qualities throughout pre-season so far and could be set to add to his solitary senior appearance, made late last season. 

New faces: Melbourne was rapt with its dual top-12 draft selections, but were just as pleased to secure Trent Rivers with pick No.32. The calm and steady defender has enjoyed a sound start to the club's pre-season training, demonstrating his tidy ball use and composure with the footy throughout match simulation drills. The West Australian looks like he could be a trusty long-term replacement for Michael Hibberd in the Demons' defence. - Riley Beveridge

2019's BIGGEST STORIES We count down the top 50 stories of the year 40-31

NORTH MELBOURNE

Established gun: Track watchers will have noticed something significant from Shaun Higgins this pre-season – he hasn't lost his zip. At age 31, Higgins looks as intense and skilful as usual in drills and match-play. It would have burned the dual winner to finish eighth in this year's Syd Barker Medal count, even though he missed five games recovering from his AC joint setback. 

Gen next: All eyes are on Luke Davies-Uniacke, the fourth overall pick in the 2017 NAB AFL Draft. Teammate Jy Simpkin's breakout third season this year delivers a nice blueprint for the kid known as 'LDU'. Finished top five in the Roos' time trial in late November and looks in great nick. Translating that endurance to games could be all it takes for Davies-Uniacke to take off.

New faces: There is optimistic intrigue about ex-Giant Aiden Bonar, who is a mountain of a man for someone of 20 years. Is aiming to slice some kilos off his frame and improve his running ability, with an inside midfield role in mind for 2020 in his new colours. Will also provide a target up forward. - Marc McGowan

Aiden Bonar is keen to impress at his new club. Picture: AFL Photos

PORT ADELAIDE

Established gun: Four-time All Australian Robbie Gray is relishing the chance to get a proper pre-season under his belt having struggled with injuries the past couple of summers. The 31-year-old is still managed at certain times, which is to be expected, but the work he has got in has been quality.

Gen next: Young gun Zak Butters has been turning heads with his outstanding performances on the track, despite not being involved in contact work as he recovers from off-season shoulder surgery. He's made a substantial improvement with his running times and has been pushing renowned runner Karl Amon all the way. 

New faces: It hasn't taken long for father/son recruit Jackson Mead to make an impact. Mead – the son of inaugural Power club champion Darren - is already regarded as one of the best kicks at the club. The midfielder has the physical attributes already and doesn't look out of place among his more senior teammates. – Lee Gaskin

RICHMOND

Established Gun: 'Established Gun' may be an understatement when it comes to Dustin Martin, who is in the best shape he has been in over the past few years at this stage of pre-season. After holidaying with tennis legend Serena Williams, he is covering the ground very well, as is Daniel Rioli.

Dustin Martin has returned from his holiday with Serena in good touch. Picture: AFL Photos

Gen Next: Riley Collier-Dawkins was the club's No.1 pick in the 2018 NAB AFL Draft, but didn't make his debut as he adjusted to senior footy. After a breakout game in the VFL Grand Final, he has returned with a new sense of confidence and in much different shape than 12 months ago. 

New Faces: Richmond didn't bring in any players during the trade period, and its five draftees have only had a couple of training sessions. – Sarah Black

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ST KILDA

Established Gun: With Josh Bruce having made his way to the Western Bulldogs, Tim Membrey will have to carry a greater load up forward in 2019. The Saints are really happy with the way he presented to the start of pre-season and he is a strong voice out on the track. Jade Gresham has also slimmed down somewhat over his break.

Gen Next: He was sidelined for the entire 2019 season after undergoing back surgery at the start of February, but Jack Bytel has turned heads so far this pre-season. Bytel, who was taken by the Saints with pick No.41 in the 2018 NAB AFL Draft, is in tip-top shape and is running extremely well.

New Faces: The Saints nearly gave up the kitchen sink for Bradley Hill, but he's a clear standout when he gets the ball at training. The former Fremantle winger has been carving scythes through the midfield during match simulation, running hard both ways. His pace will add a much-needed new dynamic to the team. – Sarah Black

Former Docker Bradley Hill is 'training the house down' at St Kilda. Picture: AFL Photos

SYDNEY

Established Gun: Superstar forward Lance Franklin isn't quite into full training yet, but he told AFL.com.au this week that he's ready as soon as the Swans' conditioning staff give him the tick of approval. Franklin has trimmed down a touch and has been a beast in match simulation drills.

Gen Next: Young forward Will Hayward played just 13 games this year because of injury but is in ripping condition after hip surgery ended his season early. Hayward has his mobility back and has also looked more physical and aggressive in his competitive work at the Swans' training camp in Coffs Harbour this week.

Will Hayward looks in good nick after an injury-interrupted 2019. Picture: AFL Photos

New Faces: Strong-bodied draftee Will Gould already looks settled in the AFL setting, even if he's being eased into the pre-season with the other new faces. Gould played senior footy in the SANFL this year and has the physique that looks to have him ready to have an early impact in 2020. – Adam Curley

WEST COAST

Established Gun: Key forward Josh Kennedy is on track to have his first full pre-season in three or four years. While he will still be managed at times, which is understandable at the age of 32, the 243-game veteran is getting through plenty of running and getting the kilometres into his legs. 

Gen Next: Exciting small forward Jarrod Cameron has returned in ripping shape, as shown by slicing 20 seconds off his personal-best time in the club's 2km time trial. The 19-year-old will be looking to build on his promising debut season when he booted 11 goals in seven games.

New Faces: Marquee recruit Tim Kelly couldn't have been more impressive in his first pre-season with his new club. The former Cat reported for training two weeks earlier than required in a sign he wanted to make a strong impression. He's looked sharp in ballwork and is running strongly. – Lee Gaskin

Ex-Cat Tim Kelly has made a strong impression in his first few weeks at the Eagles. Picture: AFL Photos

WESTERN BULLDOGS

Established gun: Speedy backman Jason Johannisen's preparations for the 2019 season were derailed by injury but fast forward to the present and the defensive playmaker could hardly be in better shape leading into the Christmas break. Johannisen, who recently became a father, has thrived on an injury-free run and looks likely to break all land-speed records at Whitten Oval. 

Gen next: Exciting ruck prospect Tim English will enter his fourth AFL season a more formidable physical presence after adding 5kgs in the off-season to hit the scales at 105kgs. Importantly, the big blonde has added bulk and strength without sacrificing any of the athleticism and endurance that is crucial to his game.

New faces: The training form of former St Kilda key forward Josh Bruce has been so eye-catching that he has Dogs diehards salivating at the prospect of his aerial combination with promising pair Aaron Naughton and Josh Schache. Started his campaign with the Bulldogs' youngsters and has already proven a strong target in match simulation. - Ben Collins

Josh Bruce has joined the Bulldogs from St Kilda. Picture: AFL Photos