Essendon assistant coach Simon Goodwin has tipped a breakout year from WA's Travis Colyer after the best pre-season of his career.

The 22-year-old has struggled to cement his place in the Bombers line-up during four years at the club, but has often played a key role as a substitute.

Colyer's pace is one of his strengths and it is that asset which Essendon are looking to capitalise on in 2014.

Goodwin said Colyer had taken significant steps over summer and loomed as an important player, starting with tonight's NAB Challenge game against Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium.

"We're really excited about the way that Trav has trained throughout the pre-season," Goodwin said.

"There's no doubt we've noticed that he's really matured over the last 12 to 18 months as a player.

"He's really starting to train to a level that we're really excited about. I think Trav would be the first one to admit that he's really excited by the year ahead.

"He can see that he's improved a lot and we've got really high prospects for Trav."

Colyer is expected to get plenty of opportunities tonight because the Bombers left most of their star on-ballers in Melbourne.

Jobe Watson, David Myers, Brendon Goddard, Paul Chapman and Jake Melksham have all been given the night off.

Gold Coast will unveil prized WA recruit Jack Martin.

He played NAB Cup last year after arriving at the club as a 17-year-old, but wasn't allowed to be selected during the home-and-away season.

Martin will play alongside AFL rising star Jaeger O'Meara, who joined the Suns under the same mini-draft rules.

Brownlow medallist Gary Ablett has been named in Gold Coast's squad, but ruckman Zac Smith, rugby league convert Karmichael Hunt and midfield stars Dion Prestia and Harley Bennell won't play.

Essendon chose draft picks Zach Merrett and Orazio Fantasia, as well as Kurt Aylett, who they received in a trade with Greater Western Sydney.

Tonight's game will give Paddy Ryder the chance to prepare for life without Tom Bellchambers for the start of the season.

Bellchambers is recovering from an ankle injury, leaving Ryder as their solo ruckman.

The West Australian

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