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Finding middle ground

"My base fitness has been improving ... I feel like I'm running back to my best like I was a few years ago."

Midfielder Ryan Bastinac is confident he can return to his best form and is intent on stamping his imprint in the midfield following the departure of Levi Greenwood.

Despite featuring in every game, the 23-year-old had to adjust to life as a substitute for the first time in his career in 2014, donning the vest on five occasions.

Bastinac said he is going back to basics this pre-season to regain his touch and rectify his fluctuating form.

"I'm just going out every session, trying to work as hard as I can and improve on the things I need to to become that elite midfielder," Bastinac told NMFC.com.au on Friday.

"I believe I can, so if I put in the hard work, I should go a long way."

While the 184cm on-baller is unable to pinpoint the exact reasons for last year's form slump, he aims to take a leaf out of Greenwood's book in order to consolidate his spot in the line-up.

Greenwood, who switched from North to Collingwood in last year's trade period, began the year as a substitute before quickly finding his feet in the Roos' midfield when given his chance.

"I look at Levi (and) how he started off last year not really being in the team, and then he broke in and never really looked back," he said.

"If you take an attitude like that, you just need an opportunity and that's what I'll be looking to do."

In a sign of his grit, Bastinac has managed to build his running endurance this pre-season, setting a new personal best time in the club's 2km time trial last month.

"My base fitness has been improving as well, I feel like I'm running back to my best like I was a few years ago," he said.

Bastinac performed the role of an outside midfielder for a large part of last year, collecting 65 per cent of his disposals uncontested.

The number three envisages playing as both an inside and outside midfielder again this season with stints in attacking 50.

Bastinac said he is excited by what the future holds after last year penning a three-year contract that ties him to the club until at least the end of 2017.

"It's going to be awesome, especially with the success we had last year and hopefully there's a lot more to come in the three years I've got left," he said.

"I can't wait to get stuck into 2015 and have a good crack."