Y-League: A Sky Blue season opener

Sunday afternoon will complete a packed weekend of football for Jets fans, with the Foxtel National Youth League (NYL) set to get underway in Newcastle.

The match has been moved to Adamstown Oval, with No.2 Sportsground still undergoing vital maintenance work, and it’s a familiar hunting ground for the Youth Team.

In two games in the NPL Northern NSW there against regular tenants, Adamstown Rosebud, this season the Jets took four points from an available six.

SQUAD: Y-League lineup finalised

The boys have been working hard since the conclusion of the NPL Northern NSW season, with positive results and performances in trial matches against Canberra and Central Coast in the lead-up to Sunday.

Similar to their Hyundai A-League counterparts, the youth boys will welcome last year’s NYL second place side, Sydney FC.

Weifang Cup Game 3 v Shandong
Cal Gabriel will be one man keen to get stuck in on Sunday.

Among the Sky Blues ranks this weekend there’s plenty of experience, such as the likes of captain and centre-back, Liam McGing and Young Socceroos goalkeeper, Duro Dragicevic.

Giancarlo Italiano is the new Sky Blues youth coach, and he’s supported by former New Zealand international, Shane Smeltz.

Team news

There are a number of new faces among the Youth Team ranks for the upcoming campaign, with the likes of Jack Simmons and Ryan Goodhew set to play in their first NYL campaign.

Cole Mutton is new to the club, coming up to Newcastle from NPL NSW club Sydney United 58, and may look to play a part this weekend.

There’s also a few Academy graduates set for the first NYL campaign. Riley Smith and Tom Curran have risen through the ranks and will be in the mix for Sunday afternoon.

On the other side of the coin, there’s also plenty of experience in players like Noah James, Jackson Frendo, and Kent Harrison who know the ins and outs of just what the NYL demands.

As always, there’s the chance of Hyundai A-League squad players dropping back. Could someone like Kosta Petratos, who isn’t in the squad for Saturday night’s Hyundai A-League match, make an appearance on Sunday?

Kosta Petratos

What Labi Haliti said

Preparing for Sunday

"We're looking forward to it. It's an exciting time, especially for myself, but also the boss and the team. We've got a new squad put together, so we're looking forward to it.

"The majority of the core squad is there, we've added a couple of new boys. I don't want to single out any players, but the two scholarship boys in Jack Simmons and Noah James, obviously are the standouts.

"It's a team performance and a team game, and everyone is doing well."

On the squad

"It's very important to have the core of the squad together in such a short season, and across the team we don't have much experience. Jack [Simmons] and Ryan [Goodhew] have never played NYL, so it's a young squad but we're very comfortable with where we are.

Weifang Cup Game 4 v China National Youth
Tristan Esquilant will push Noah James for a spot in goals.

"Boys like Kieran Hayes and Jackson Frendo, boys who were there last year and the year before, they're the ones with the experience and that'll drive it.

"But the young boys aren't too shy, so they'll be alright. 

On what to expect

"I'm at first team training every day to try to replicate their style of football. We try to put that into the youth team, and get them ready for the first team.

"I think it's important to win, because they play against the best in the country of their age. Winning is important too, we want to start well and obviously the home games we want to do well.

"No one will take their shirt off if they score. It'll be an entertaining game, we're at home and I think you touched on it, it's our game and there's no need to try to hold back and try for [the draw]. We'll play for the win, definitely."