22-year-old midfielder Paul Ahern has taken another step forward in his quest to secure a regular spot in North Melbourne’s side after another impressive performance.

Ahern was a shining light in North’s 21-point loss to Port Adelaide on Saturday, kicking three goals and collecting 21 disposals.

“A performance like this is massive for me,” he told North Media.

“Obviously we’ve got a lot of depth in the midfield, but I just wanted to focus on playing my role well and I thought I did that today.

“It was good to hit the scoreboard early, and I’ve just got to continue to be aggressive around stoppages.

“There’s a lot of things I need to work on, and I’ll continue to work on those, and hopefully be in good shape for Round 1.”

Having put a horror run with injuries behind him, Ahern believes his ability to work through his first full AFL pre-season is the catalyst behind his current form.

“I feel as though I can run out games and make an impact in those fourth quarters a lot better now,” he said.

“That’s going to be a focus of mine during the year.”

While failing to win a game ahead of Round 1 isn’t the ideal result for the Roos, Ahern says there are some positives to take away from matches against St Kilda and Port Adelaide.

“I think that’s what the whole point of having the JLT Series is,” Ahern added.

“It’s not so much about the scoreboard, obviously you always want to win, but it’s more about learning and I’m sure we’ll take a lot of lessons out of today.

“I think the boys are gelling well and we can’t wait for Round 1.”