The Kids are alright (part II)

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In this second part of the two part look at youth development and the young players we have coming through, we shift the focus onto the young players themselves. The players that will be looked at are based in Australia or abroad and will still be under thirty years of age by the World Cup in Russia in 2018. Five line-ups with no players repeated have been named.

Line-up 1:

GK- Mathew Ryan (CCM, 20)

CB- Curtis Good (NUFC, 19), Bailey Wright (Preston NE, 20)

RB- Ryan McGowan (Hearts, 23)                      LB- Jason Davidson ( Heracles, 21)

DM- Jackson Irvine (Celtic, 19)

CM- Mustafa Amini (Borussia Dortmund, 19)     Tom Rogic (CCM, 19)

RW- Matthew Leckie (Borussia MG, 21)           LW- Tommy Oar (FC Utrecht, 20)

CF- Corey Gameiro (Fulham, 19)

Line-up 2:

GK- Alex Baird (Dundee, 18)

CB- Zac Anderson (CCM, 21), Luke Devere (Gyeongnam FC, 22)

RB- Shane Lowry (Millwall, 23)                      LB- Brad Smith ( Liverpool, 18)

DM- Milos Degenek (VfB Stuttgart, 18)

CM- Bradden Inman (NUFC, 21)     Adam Sarota (FC Utrecht, 23)

RW- Jamie Maclaren (Blackburn, 18)            LW- Julius Davies (Melbourne Victory, 18)

CF- Eli Babalj (Red Star, 20)

Line-up 3:

GK- Aaron Lennox (QPR, 19)

CB- Dylan McGowan (Hearts, 21), Brendan Hamill (Seongnam, 19)

RB- Rafa Jimenez (Villareal, 16)                       LB- Tom King ( Bristol City, 18)

DM- Chris Herd (AVFC, 23)

CM- Mitch Cooper (CCM, 17)  Daniel De Silva (Football West, 15)

RW- Ben Halloran (Brisbane Roar, 20)                              LW- Robbie Kruse (Fortuna Düsseldorf,23)

CF- Brent McGrath (Brondby, 21)

Line-up 4:

GK- Alex Cisak (Oldham, 23)

CB- James Donachie (Roar, 19), Connor Chapman (Jets, 17)

RB- Aryn Williams (Burnley, 18)                                   LB- Craig Goodwin (Jets, 20)

DM- Ben Kantarovski (Jets, 20)

CM- Massimo Luongo (Tottenham, 19), Terry Antonis (Sydney FC, 18)

RW- Dylan Tombides (West Ham, 18)            LW- Kerem Bulut (Eskiherspor, 20)

CF- Bernie Ibini-Isei (CCM, 19)

Line-up 5:

GK-Seb Usai (Blackburn, 22)

CB- Calvin Lovric (Parma, 20), Matthew Jurman (Roar, 22)

RB- Scott Neville (Jets, 23)                         LB- Aziz Behich (Melbourne Heart, 21)

CM- Jake Barker-Daish (AUFC, 19), Ryan Edwards (Reading, 18)

AM- Theo Markelis (Victory, 20)

RW- Ryan Williams (Fulham, 18)                  LW- Chris Ikonomidis (Atalanta, 17)

CF- Paul Giannou (PAOK, 22)

These five line-ups are just an example of some of the promising talent we have coming through and by no means the only ones. Players such as Aaron Mooy, Taylor Tombides, Reece Caira, Dean Bouzanis, Jesse Makarounas, Jarrod Kyle, Giancarlo Gallifuoco, Nick Fitzgerald and a whole host of others could’ve been included.

“Promising” is the key word here while some mentioned above have earnt starting roles at their clubs others are still fighting for a regular place but they are still in the fight. Sure some of these young players will not become stars in the EPL, Serie A, or La Liga but we have them in place and all their club coaches have seen enough in them to keep them around, promote them from the youth teams and offer pro-contracts.

All it takes is to give a few of these players an opportunity like we used to to our up-and-coming youth and there’s no doubt that at least one or two will reward the faith.

As shown before, Australian football heroes such as Tim Cahill and Lucas Neill were not teens when they hit the big time so the young players we now have should be given time before they, as a generation, are written off completely.

Conversely, players like Mark Viduka and Brett Emerton were given chances at international football as promising and talented players before they were ever tested in the bigger European leagues.

In hindsight, we can say giving Harry, Viduka, Zelic, Emerton, Aloisi and others the chances at a young age was worth it for the great players they became. At the time though, they were still not the finished articles and had a lot of developing to do but they were shown faith by the Australian coaches. Some might say out of necessity and if that’s the case well isn’t now one of those times?

In today’s climate it wouldn’t surprise me if a young Mark Viduka was passed on until he was 25 and joining Leeds in the EPL. Luke Wilkshire would still be an unknown Aussie abroad playing in England’s lower leagues.

The time has come for us to revert back to what made us the hungry, determined nation that wouldn’t lay down against the more fancied Uruguayans. or drop our heads with time running out against the Japanese and the Croatians. We need to bring back the fight and desire to prove that we deserve to be on the biggest football stage of them all.

With the right amount of youth and experience we can achieve this and do it while playing beautiful yet intense, relentless football.It has been done before just watch the 1997 team versus Iran. Ignore the result and just watch how they played.

We don’t need to bring in a whole new team of young players, nor a player not be selected because their over 30. A transition though needs to start happening right now. A couple of changes here and there over the course of the next two years to keep the squad fresh and everyone on their toes.

Ideally, come Brazil 2014, we will see some of the current Socceroos with their experience mixed with some of the young names mentioned above. This is the only hope we have of putting in a decent showing when we take on the world’s finest footballing nations. Let’s just hope we aren’t waiting for them to be the “Australian Messi” or the “new Harry Kewell” until they get given a chance.

Adam Howard

Adam is one of the founders of Football Central and the creator of  He has followed the career paths of Australian footballers playing in leagues all over the world.  Born in Adelaide and currently residing in Hiroshima, Adam brings a unique perspective to Australian football.  He is an ardent supporter of Australia's domestic competition and national team.

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