Emerging Saint Jade Gresham is eyeing more time in the midfield next season, but he knows he must put some money in the bank during the pre-season to ensure he can run out games as a midfielder.

The 19-year-old produced an impressive debut season in 2016, playing all but four games to become a permanent fixture in St Kilda’s best 22.

Despite starring as an onballer during his underage career, St Kilda's new No. 4 has been forced to begin his AFL career as a small forward due to the Saints’ midfield depth.

Gresham, who recently inked a two-year contract extension, was exposed to increased midfield minutes as the season progressed and is hopeful of more time in the engine room in 2017.

“I’ll hopefully play a bit more mid next year,” Gresham told Croc Media on Wednesday night.

“Mid was my main position growing up, so I just need to build my tank up and hopefully get a crack in the mid next year.

“I think I’ll play a bit up forward as well, but hopefully a bit more time in the midfield hopefully.”

Gresham admits the rise of the Western Bulldogs has inspired the Saints to aim high next season, with a return to September for the first time since 2011 in the club's sights, following a 12-win campaign.

“They’ve [Western Bulldogs] inspired us a little bit; they’ve got a young side and so do we,” he said.

“We went alright this year, dropped a few games we should have won but I reckon next year hopefully we can take a step forward and make finals, that’s our aim really.

St Kilda key forward Paddy McCartin is progressing well after overcoming a broken collarbone which brought his frustrating season to a premature end in Round 22.

Gresham said the 2014 No. 1 pick has been one of the standouts on the training track across the first six weeks of the pre-season program.

“He’s going really well; he’s a lot fitter and stronger; he’s tearing training apart,” he said.

“I reckon he’s going to take another step forward next year, he’s going to be really good for us next year I think.”

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