Described by coach Nick Montgomery as the “best left back in the A-League”, teenager Jacob Farrell is fast attracting the attention of offshore scouts and could be the next Central Coast Mariners prospect to land an overseas move.
The production line that spawned the likes of Mile Jedinak, Tom Rogic, Mat Ryan and Mitch Duke is cranking up again, with last season alone Alou Kuol (Stuttgart II), Jing Reece (AGF Aarhus) and Gianni Stensness (Vikings FK, Norway) attracting transfer fees with potential add-ons down the track.
On taking the top job this season, Montgomery re-recruited Farrell after he was deemed surplus to requirements and cut loose by the previous regime.
The Englishman, who spent the bulk of his 18-year playing career with Sheffield United, has no doubt the youngster has the potential to carve out a career in Europe, having worked previously with him in his former incarnation as Mariners academy coach.
And it was Montgomery who prioritised tempting Farrell back after he’d dropped to NPL level in Newcastle and had taken up an alternate career as a plasterer.
“He’s really come from nowhere (with five A-League Men starts so far this season),” Montgomery told FTBL.
“But I always saw something in him when I was working with him at the academy - and for me he’s the best left back in the competition.
“Do I think he can make it overseas? Most definitely he has the talent - he has to just keep working hard and developing.
“There are a lot of top players around the world and a lot has to do with having the right mentality - and Jacob certainly has that winning mindset.
“He thought he might not have a career in the game to look forward after being let go by the previous coaching staff who didn’t think anything of him.
“But I saw plenty, which is why I brought him back when I took over.
“His has a terrific attitude and is good at what he does. He wins a lot of tackles but is also good on the ball and very athletic.
“He has the right temperament as well. I always believed he could make it in Australia - it’s just a matter of how far he can go now.”
Farrell’s road to recognition might not be as straightforward as it is for those Aussies who possess a European lineage which affords them dual citizenship.
“He only has an Australian passport and that can affect your options but he just has to keep the right mindset and back himself, and I don’t see why doors shouldn’t open for him (initially in other markets),” explained Montgomery.
“We’re working hard to give young players game time at the top level in Australia, and you’re also seeing that with Lewis Miller (21), Harrison Steele (19), Max Balard (21) and Daniel Hall (22) breaking through and doing well for us."
The youth policy is paying off with the Mariners sitting fourth on the ladder - five points behind leaders Melbourne Victory with two games in hand - and in the semi-finals of the FFA Cup.