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Happy to be back

Callum Twomey  July 15, 2016 10:15 AM

Laverde is certain that he wants to remain a Don.

Laverde is certain that he wants to remain a Don.

Essendon forward Jayden Laverde's has returned to the senior team and says he "definitely" wants to stay at the club.

The exciting 20-year-old is one of only a handful of players selected in the first round of the 2014 NAB AFL Draft who are yet to sign on beyond their initial standard two-year deal.

But after recovering from shoulder surgery, which ruled him out of senior contention for nearly three months, Laverde is back in the Essendon team.

He is one of 17 players at the club (outside of the banned Bombers) who remain unsigned for next season.

"I've left it with my management group. They're in some talks at the moment but I just wanted to leave it with them," Laverde told AFL.com.au.

"I obviously haven't played a lot of footy this year so I just wanted to get out there and enjoy being back and try and cement a spot in the side.

"Being injured for most of the season it can get a bit annoying on the sidelines and being in the rehab group, so I just really want to get out there instead of worrying about off-field issues."

Laverde only needed patches to remind everyone of his talent last week against the St Kilda, in just his second game of the season.

He gathered nine disposals and kicked two goals, having returned from a long layoff after rupturing his AC joint in his shoulder in his first AFL game of the season, back in round four against Geelong.

He recovered quicker than expected – he was back playing in the VFL after eight weeks – but then needed a run of games before being considered for senior selection.

After playing the final nine games of his debut season, Laverde had hoped to cement a position in the team this season, particularly with the absence of the 12 Bombers serving WADA bans.

But his showing against the Saints has given him confidence he can make an impact and settle into the team for the remaining seven rounds of the year.

"It's just disappointing that I didn't get to play a lot of footy. Missing eight weeks after being out the first couple of weeks of the year with an ankle injury, it's not where I thought I wanted to be at the end of this year," he said.

"But that's footy and I have to deal with it and string some games together at the back end of the year, which I'm trying to do now.

"It's made me a stronger person going through a lot more rehab, and seeing what the boys who have been in there a lot longer than I was have to do makes you learn about how diligent you have to be to get back out there. I'm a lot better in that sense, and I've learned a lot about resilience."

Laverde's pace, size and athleticism appealed to the Bombers, who drafted him three picks after taking Kyle Langford at the 2014 intake.

He has identified Sydney Swans star Luke Parker as the type of player he'd like to develop into, seeing Parker's overhead marking and damaging sense up forward as translatable qualities.

"Long-term, I hope I'm able to move into the midfield, and then go forward when we need to kick a few goals," Laverde said.

Laverde is among a group of young Bombers, including Zach Merrett, Joe Daniher, Darcy Parish, Aaron Francis, Orazio Fantasia, Langford and Marty Gleeson, who the club is pinning its future on after a horror four-year stint in its history.  

"We've been through a tough period in the last couple of years and we've been at the bottom a few times, but that's going to hold us in good stead to know how much improvement we've got in us to know where we've been and where we want to get to," he said.

"We're making big steps as a club."