HARRY McKay has a different type of goal in 2019.

His aim isn't to kick a certain number of goals or take a certain number of marks.

Instead, as one of the more jovial and energetic characters in a young Carlton side, McKay has been told by coach Brendon Bolton to express that personality out on the field.

His ambition, therefore, it quite simple: to have fun.

"Footy can be pretty serious at times, but on the ground it's nice to sometimes show your flair and play some fun footy," McKay told AFL.com.au.

"Bolts is really big on that, having personality on the ground. Obviously, you want to do the team thing, but when you've got the chance to show what you've got, you go for it."

A number of Carlton coaches have described McKay as one of the club's more animated figures, not afraid to play a prank or relentlessly rib a teammate.

McKay screws up his face at the suggestion.

"I try and make a few jokes here and there," he admitted.

"But I think our footy club has lots of different personalities. We're really accepting of everyone being different and it's a really good place to be. Everyone can be themselves."

That personality has landed McKay in some hot water recently.

Still just 21, McKay has been made to bide his time before getting a consistent crack at AFL level. Injuries that have limited his preparation haven't helped, either.

Having missed the first four games of last season, McKay returned to the side with 12 goals in his next six games. It wasn't enough for Carlton's match committee, as he was dropped back to the VFL for the next six weeks much to the confusion of the wider football public.

On finally being recalled for a round 18 clash with Hawthorn, a Q&A in the AFL Record was published. To the question 'My coach often says ?', McKay's response was, "You'll be in the twos this week, Harry."

Having been polled for the story in the off-season, almost eight months earlier, the timing was unlucky to say the least.

Fortunately, the gag was taken well by Bolton as well as the coach's decision to send the 200cm forward back to the reserves had been taken by McKay.

"I'm not going to look back thinking, gee, that week in the VFL killed me," McKay said.

"It's obviously not great. I want to be playing in the ones consistently, but hopefully down the track it's just part of my development and part of my story.

It would be nice to be playing ones every week, but I'm a little bit different to Charlie Curnow, and my story is going to be different to the next guy
This season, however, is special for McKay.

While he could understand the reasons for his demotions to the VFL last season, having not yet had a pre-season under his belt and having missed a host of training sessions due to lingering injury issues, the upcoming campaign marks one he hopes will be a breakout year.

For the first time in his career, McKay has enjoyed a full and uninterrupted pre-season. He hasn't missed a beat and looks primed for a consistent run in the senior team.

He's strong, long and athletic the prototype modern forward.

"As much as game days help him, last year he was getting games, but he wasn't doing much training through the week," Carlton's forwards coach David Teague told AFL.com.au.

"He was playing, but not training, and it's hard to develop like that. At training, it's OK to make mistakes. On game day, it's also OK, but at training you don't stress about it as much.

"You're freer to keep going for it and he's been able to show that this pre-season. He's growing in confidence and his teammates are starting to understand how he leads and how he wants the ball kicked to him, so I think he's setting himself up well."

Even without a full summer of work under his belt as he entered the 2018 season, McKay still showed signs of his immense potential throughout the campaign.

He kicked four goals in his first game for the year against the eventual premiers West Coast at the MCG, before ultimately finishing the season with 21 majors from 13 matches.

McKay kicked multiple goals in more than half of those games, while his marking also improved dramatically late in the season.

His ability to use his height and his strong hands resulted in a promising combination with Curnow, while the arrival of Mitch McGovern will enable him to be isolated even more.

"It was nice, having a bit of reassurance that I can play at this level," McKay said.

"Not that I necessarily needed that, but it's nice to get a bit of a confidence boost. That comes and goes. One week you could work just as hard, if not harder, but it's just not your day. That's why you can't necessarily go off goals and marks.

"One week it might be my turn, the next week Charlie kicks a bag and then who knows who pops up the week after? But, at the same time, it's always nice to get your name on the scoreboard and kick a few and get some confidence."

A two-year contract extension, signed in December and securing the young forward's future until the end of 2021, will also ensure McKay is settled going into the season.

It follows contracts signed by Curnow, Patrick Cripps, Paddy Dow and a host of other young players last season a factor McKay believes is significant in the club's rebuild.

"It's obviously nice to have a job for another couple of years," McKay laughed.

"But I actually read into it a fair bit. They wouldn't re-sign if they didn't think it was a place where we could have success. You look at Charlie, who signed a long-term deal. If he didn't think that this was a place where we could have some success, he wouldn't sign.

"When guys re-commit, especially young guys, it's a really good show of faith. I think it's exciting, knowing that while the scoreboard wasn't going our way last year, internally we know where we want to go, and we really have the belief we can get there."