Western Sydney Wanderers A-League coach Carl Robinson has promised fans that more youngsters coming through in the club’s youth program will continue to get chances in the senior team.
One of the silver linings of a rollercoaster season for the red and black has been the progression of young defenders Mark Natta and Thomas Aquilina, who have both had outstanding debut seasons.
“I think they have been exceptional this year,” praised Robinson. “They have nearly played 20 odd games, each of them, and that is a positive.
“Week in and week out we have been talking about these two young guys as arguably being our most consistent players.
“Young players go up and down. It’s senior players we want to be consistent and unfortunately we have not had enough of them. I am delighted with the progress of these young guys.”
The Wanderers squad is littered with youth products, with the likes of Keanu Baccus and Tate Russell along with Natta and Aquilina, being among the better players each week.
Robinson has promised this production line will continue, insisting the likes of academy stars Ali Auglah and Reuben Awaritefe will be looked at in the coming weeks and next season.
Auglah has netted 11 goals in 12 NPL games in 2021 while Awaritefe has scored five, with the Wanderers Youth team sitting in second spot on the NSW NPL2 ladder.
“Those two young kids, along with Alessandro Lopane and Jarrod Carluccio, we have a number of players in the NPL that have done very well this year,” said Robinson. “But we also know the NPL is different to the A-League.
“But there are opportunities to be had for these young players.
“We have seen three play for the majority of this season, who didn’t even play NPL last year, that is how well they have progressed.
“I will have a look at them. I don’t care about reputations, I have to say, I don’t care about big names or players at the club that have been here for a while. You have to deserve to play. Age doesn’t bother me. The kids will get given a chance here.”
Robinson admits he has been preparing for the future for a while and hinted at changes during the off-season among the playing roster, which on paper, was expected to make finals.
“You have to be proactive in this game, you have to dig deep and look within, that is why all these young players are playing," he said.
“You have to make hard decisions. We want to be a club that focuses on player development and we want to be a club that focuses on team development and we are. But we also want to be a club that wins and we’ve not won and that is a disappointment for us as a football club and our supporters.
“Behind the scenes there is a lot of work that has gone on, but people don’t want to hear that, they want to win now. Unfortunately, we have not that done that so we have to accept that, accept where we have failed, analyse it and review it and make decisions and move on.”
Despite Wednesday night’s 2-1 loss to Wellington Phoenix making it likely the Wanderers will miss finals for a fourth consecutive season, Robinson insists he is not phased by the job at hand, although he admits he gave his players a rollicking at halftime after conceding two set piece goals, their Achilles heel this season.
“I am very calm, as you can see in my demeanour right now, but when I have got to get angry, I will get angry. At halftime I told them they can’t defend like that. 'That is very amateur. It has to hurt you.'
“I will find the root of the problem and I have to deal with the problem as that is not acceptable. That was embarrassing defending.”
The Wanderers host Brisbane at Bankwest Stadium on Sunday and need to win and have other results go their way if they are to make the top six.
The Wanderers youth team host St George FC at Wanderers Football Park on Saturday night.
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