The Foxtel Y-League returns for season 2017/18 this weekend and City Y-League Head Coach Joe Palatsides is looking forward to continuing to develop the Club’s next generation of talent.
The Y-League will have a close link with the senior side in 2017/18 with Warren Joyce at the A-League helm, and his history in youth development speaks for itself. With a formula that has seen the side pick up two Championships in the last three seasons, the guidance of the youth side under the City coaching staff won’t be too different.
“The Academy structure won’t change at all from what we’ve put in place over the last few years,” Palatsides said.
“Warren’s been great, I’ve asked him a few times if he wants us to change anything and he’s been happy for us to do what we have already been doing.
“I think he recognises the number of boys coming through [the system], so he’s pleased for us to keep going with the way we’re going.
Joyce hasn’t washed his hands of the Academy setup however, with Palatsides being joined by the senior Head Coach to train City’s young up and comers.
“What he [Joyce] will do is occasionally take a few sessions with the youth boys. All of our youth boys, the cream of our NYL team, will be with Warren and myself and it’s great that he wants to take part in that, that he’s hands on,” he said.
“He’s had so much experience in his career with Manchester United and what he’s developed over there so when you have people like that, that can give you input and make things better, it’s great for our football program.
City’s academy had eight players selected as a part of Ufuk Talay’s U19 squad for AFC U19 Championship qualification in October and this means that Palatsides will be work with one of the most talented youth sides in the country.
“I think plenty of our youth boys would be starters in some other A-League clubs,” he said.
“Ramy [Najjarine], Daniel Arzani, Nathanial Atkinson, Dennis Genreau, Dylan Pierias, Josh Cavallo; all these kids have been so impressive in their pre-season that Warren himself has said that these boys could play A-League football – I’d have no hesitation throwing them in – so we know they’re at a good level.
“With Ramy and Daniel for example, they’re good enough to get an opportunity; and they will get an opportunity, I’ve got no doubt they’ll get an opportunity, it’s just a matter of when.
“They’re just going to have to bide their time because when you have such a quality team in the squad that we’ve put together in the A-League you just have to wait. That’s usually what happens with youth boys; you just wait for your time and when it comes you take advantage of it.
Najjarine – who signed from the Western Sydney Wanderers as a scholarship player in July – didn’t play a part in the NPL side after signing with the club and Palatsides is upbeat about what City fans can expect to see from the youngster.
“You’re going to see a player,” he said.
“Ramy is very, very exciting young talent. He’s a player with a massive X-Factor – as is Daniel Arzani – and can turn a game at any moment. He’s got this ability to glide past a player and make things happen.
“These players are very hard to find, around the world not just here, so if Ramy has an opportunity you’re going to see something pretty special from this young kid going forward.
The depth of City’s academy side stretches deeper than its bevy of international representatives however, and Palatsides is also excited about several other young players that are coming up through the system.
“With all those boys with the senior team and in the national team setup, we all kind of know who they are and how talented they are,” he said.
“Coming through behind them is Lucas Portelli, a centre back of ours who has been training with the seniors and been doing really well. He’s still not quite ready physically, he’s still only young, but he’s growing into his body and he’s feeling a lot more comfortable physically than what he was so he’s one of the players that we should be looking out for.
“Gianluca Iannucci will be one of those players, he’s an exciting 2001 born player and you’ll also see players that are on the cusp of things like Lucas Derrick and those type of players that will be a chance to play in the senior team in the years ahead.
City will open their defence of their Y-League season this Saturday, as they play host to the Brisbane Roar. Kick-off 3.30pm at the City Football Academy, Melbourne. This a change from the initial venue of CB Smith Reserve.