In what has been an exciting start to the season, there has been plenty of young talent shown off in the A-League Men so far.
From powerful defenders to the technically gifted, The Inner Sanctum takes a look at the 10 of the most impressive Aussie youngsters from the early rounds of the season.
#1. Jacob Farrell – Central Coast Mariners
Jacob Farrell has been nothing short of instrumental for the Mariners this season, starting all four matches including scoring on his debut.
Farrell plays with controlled aggression, power, and reads the game extremely well. Although not the tallest defender, he already looks quite comfortable when contesting for air balls and is a very intelligent footballer.
His defensive statistics are astounding for someone that made his A-League Men debut less than a month ago – averaging 3.2 interceptions, 2.2 clearances and winning 4.4 ground duels (per game).
Farrell’s average match rating (7.42) has him sitting as the 14th highest rated player in the competition so far, and there is no doubt that he is pushing for an Olyroos call up.
The 19-year-old is a very welcome sight to Australian football fans, as the left-back position for the national team is one without a lot of depth or potential.Embed from Getty Images
#2. Angus Thurgate – Newcastle Jets
Angus Thurgate is a player that has been in the system for a while, but at just 21 is seriously impressing in his third year in the A-League Men.
With over 70 appearances now for the Jets, Thurgate has proved to be a very calm and composed box-to-box midfielder who can provide a service in either offence or defence.
His work-rate is quite literally insane, and his ability to pick out difficult passes is quite good for a 21-year-old. His shooting is something that definitely needs work, but that will come with time.
Thurgate has maintained an 82 per cent pass accuracy this season, as well as averaging three tackles a game and winning seven ground duels per game. He also has an average match rating of 7.23.
As the Jets continue to play an impressive brand of football under Arthur Papas, Thurgate will definitely be one to keep an eye on for the rest of the season.Embed from Getty Images
#3. Marco Tilio – Melbourne City
The shining light from the Olyroos World Cup squad has once again been impressive in his start to the A-League Men season.
Although only starting the two matches due to the quality of Melbourne City’s attack, Tilio has featured in all games and his fancy footwork has proved difficult for the opposition to handle.
Tilio has averaged a 77 per cent pass accuracy as well as averaging 1.8 key passes per game – an impressive stat considering he has only averaged 49 minutes per game so far.
The crafty attacker will only get better as the season goes on, and even though it will continue to be difficult to break into the starting XI, the 20-year-old has all the talent in the world to plead his case to play as much football as possible.Embed from Getty Images
#4. Cameron Cook – Perth Glory
A player that was not expected to be in the Perth squad so early in the season, Alice Springs’ very first A-League Men player Cameron Cook has taken his opportunity with both gloves and has been crucial for the Glory in recent times.
Granted an opportunity due to an injury to first choice keeper Brad Jones, Cook made his debut against Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park just short of two weeks ago. Cook made three saves (two inside the box) as Glory came away 3-0 winners over Victory.
Fast-forward just three days later and the 20-year-old was back in net for a Wednesday night game against Melbourne City, where he made six saves including three inside the box, keeping his side in the game.
While they were 1-0 losers on the night due to an 85th minute header from Nathaniel Atkinson, Cook was without a doubt Glory’s MOTM and has made a case to remain in net for the near future.
However, with the recent COVID-19 situation meaning Perth will not play again until next year, the starting goalkeeper position may be difficult to hang on to as Jones nears closer to a return from injury.Embed from Getty Images
#5. Joshua Nisbet – Central Coast Mariners
One of three Mariners’ players on this list, 22-year-old Josh Nisbet has been on fire this season, and is proving that he can be a goal scorer as well as a provider.
The versatile youngster started the season off as a striker, but has since moved back to the wings since the arrival of Moresche.
Standing at just 158cm, the pocket rocket scored in the opening week of the season and has been a very important part of the Mariners’ success so far this season.
His passing has been his best asset, averaging 1.8 key passes a game as well as an 83 per cent pass accuracy. He also has a successful dribbling percentage of 77 per cent so far this season.
Having started all games so far this season, Nisbet has thus far cemented his spot in the side and looks to be an important player for the club for the remainder of 2021/22.Embed from Getty Images
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#6. Connor Metcalfe – Melbourne City
Connor Metcalfe is fast becoming one of Melbourne City’s most important players. His influence in the centre of midfield has been nothing short of crucial for his side through their early struggles defending their title.
Metcalfe is very calm and composed on the ball, and can thread some super passes, long or short. His positioning without the ball is impressive for a 22-year-old, however his defending can be a little lazy at times.
His effect on the scoreboard so far has been crucial for Melbourne City.
Had it not been for his goal against Brisbane Roar on the opening day, or his brilliant headed assist against Perth Glory most recently, Melbourne City could have been facing the possibility of being winless after five games.
Whilst there is some healthy competition in his position, expect to see Metcalfe hold down his spot for majority of the season as Melbourne City aims to defend its title.Embed from Getty Images
#7. Harry Steele – Central Coast Mariners
Another product of the Mariners’ academy, 19-year-old Harry Steele has been a rock in the midfield so far this season, and has started the last three games for the club.
Steele is a confident central midfielder that shows great aggression and composure. He is very rarely dispossessed and is not afraid of hitting a long pass to great effect.
The midfielder has a pass accuracy of 85 per cent, including a 73 per cent accuracy for long balls. He wins 59 per cent of all duels as well as averaging 1.6 tackles per game.
The 19-year-old will only continue to impress as the Mariners look to build on their recent good form.Embed from Getty Images
#8. Lachlan Rose – Macarthur FC
One of the very few forwards on this list, Lachie Rose has been a crucial squad member for Macarthur so far this season.
He scored in the opening two gameweeks of the season, in a 1-1 draw against Wellington Phoenix and a 1-0 win over Sydney FC.
The 22-year-old pacey attacker has been averaging two shots per game, and has been a reliable option for Macarthur’s link-up play in the attacking third.
The former NPL2 product is an extremely hard worker and presses intensely. As long as he continues to show that incredible work rate, it’s likely that A-League Men fans will continue to see him banging them into the back of the net.
#9. Thomas Aquilina – Western Sydney Wanderers
One of the more exciting full-back prospects in the country, Thomas Aquilina has been a shining light in what has been a dull start to the season for Western Sydney.
The 20-year-old has started all five matches at right-back, showing great pace, defensive ability and an attacking instinct.
Aquilina has a pass accuracy of 79 per cent, as well as averaging 0.8 key passes per match. He has also notched up an assist this season.
Defensively, the young full-back averages 2.2 tackles per game and 1.8 clearances, as well as winning 60 per cent of his total duels.
With his contract running out in June and some European clubs reportedly interested in his services, it is difficult to see Aquilina staying in Australia beyond this season.Embed from Getty Images
#10. Kusini Yengi – Adelaide United
If we’re talking about the player with the most hype this season, then look no further than Kusini Yengi.
The 22-year-old is looking to have a breakout season in the A-League Men, and showed he was the real deal in the first round of the season with a goal against Perth Glory.
Yengi averages 1.8 shots per game and has created opportunities for teammates as well, showing that there is more to him than just a goal scorer.
However, the striker has unfortunately succumbed to a quad injury, and although the severity of the injury is unknown, he could be set for a spell on the sidelines for over a month.
Honourable Mentions: Joel King (Sydney FC), Louis D’Arrigo (Adelaide United), Kai Trewin (Brisbane Roar), Macklin Freke (Brisbane Roar).
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