THE DIFFERENCE a year makes.

This time 12 months ago, Michael Gibbons was preparing for another NAB AFL Draft: one which would ultimately prove unsuccessful.

Gibbons is taking on the pre-season with a new sense of confidence after solidifying himself a spot on Carlton’s list.

“It’s a bit different for me this time round,” Gibbons said.

“This time last year I was leading into the draft not knowing what was going to happen.

 “It’s more so the certainty of knowing I’m coming back. There’s a lot more time to work on everything with the boys and enjoy it.”

Gibbons will be vying for more midfield time as he gets stuck into his first full pre-season in Navy Blue.

Officially replacing Downer Oval in Williamstown for Ikon Park, he’s eager to make his case to feature alongside the likes of Patrick Cripps after spending much of his first year as a small forward. 

“I’m glad I got to play some games last year up forward with spurts in the midfield,” Gibbons said.

“I’m going to push my case throughout pre-season to hopefully get a bigger role in the midfield.

“We’ll see how it plays out: I definitely want to get some more midfield time but just happy to do whatever I can and it’s however we win.”

Gibbons was among the group of first to fourth-year players who returned to training last week ahead of the 2020 season.

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However, it was training alongside one face amongst the returning experienced heads which Gibbons said was “surreal”.

It was a full circle moment for the 24-year-old training alongside Sam Docherty for the first time.

“His injury last year was why I got a chance to come down and train,” he said.

“To see him running around and see the energy and professionalism he brings around the Club, it’s going to be so exciting having him running around for us.”