EVEN Tom Langdon is surprised by what he has been able to achieve in his first season in the AFL.

Since pushing his way into the Magpies' team in the opening round of the season, the 20-year-old has established himself as a permanent fixture in Collingwood's first-choice line-up.

Better still, Langdon has been a consistent contributor off half-back for Collingwood in averaging an impressive 18 disposals per game.

The pre-season absences of Ben Reid, Marley Williams and Alex Fasolo gifted Langdon his chance in Collingwood's back half, and he's worked hard to maintain his spot ever since.  

"It's been really surprising from my point of view," Langdon told AFL.com.au.

"I wasn't expecting to improve that fast."

Langdon prides himself on his steely resolve. It was that belief that helped him when he most needed it - when he was overlooked in the 2012 NAB AFL Draft.

He went back to the Sandringham Dragons, put together a notable season and did enough for the Magpies to select him with pick No. 65 last year.

On Sunday night at the MCG against Carlton, Langdon's role will take on greater significance again.

With Nick Maxwell still sidelined with a niggling calf issue, the Magpies will again lean on the young Magpie to not only play beyond his years but also his height.

Before he was concussed against Hawthorn last week, Langdon was thrown the difficult task of containing 193cm sharpshooter Jack Gunston.

At 189cm, playing on taller opponents is all part of his development.

"You have to position yourself differently when playing on taller opponents," Langdon said.

"Undoubtedly the players I've been playing on have got a lot more experience than me and they're really strong and powerful.

"It's all about body positioning and I work pretty hard with (backline coach) Ben Hart on that and just trying to get that right."

Last time the Magpies went toe-to-toe with the Blues, Langdon lined up on public enemy No.1 Dale Thomas.

Langdon said he learned a lot from that duel and Thomas is one of a number of Blues players likely to be by his side on Sunday night.

Defensive actions are something Langdon continues to focus on but his attacking exploits are what sets him apart as a young player.

The young Magpie is ranked second in the competition for intercept marks since round five, behind only Melbourne's Lynden Dunn.

Going after the ball in the air is one of his key strengths.

"It's something that's been ingrained in me," Langdon said.

"That's probably the biggest thing and I just try to play to my strengths. Reading the play is probably one of them so I try to do that as much as I can throughout the course of a game."

Twitter: @AFL_BenGuthrie