Over the past twelve months Michael Valkanis has gone through an extensive list of young players with a fine tooth comb to select his final sixteen players for the Foxtel National Youth League commencing this Saturday.
Along with eight more ‘train-ons’ allowed in case of injury or a player being selected for the senior squad, Valkanis is confident he has a head of this season.
“We’re told to give only sixteen (players a chance) but we’ve got a very strong squad complimented by our eight train ons as well. Said Valkanis
“For us they aren’t just train ons, they form and complete our squad.
“It’s been a long and difficult process, because we’ve had to make some tough calls on the squad and it’s never easy.
In the past twelve months the thirty-four players that had the opportunity to train with the Youth Team played twelve to fourteen matches.
Along with these games Adelaide United provided the youngsters with a programme that would help them grow and improve as a player, learning the Club style and philosophy.
“The 12 month programme was so worthwhile… These kids were able to stay in our environment for a longer period of time,” said Valkanis.
“Consistent learning, consistent message and we saw, we believe that everyone did improve and it has helped a lot.”
With players such as Nathan Konstandopoulos and Bruce Kamau already part of the senior set-up it is clear that the programme is a success.
With the 2014/15 season just about to start Valkanis is aiming to have more players move up the ranks.
“That’s what we’re here for and we’re trying to help the players in developing. Said Valkanis
“We’re hoping by the end of the season we get even more young South Australian boys into the senior setup.”
The National Foxtel League is not only crucial in the development of young South Australian footballers, but also for senior players returning from injury or suspension.
“Last year we saw that because both teams play the same way there’s a seamless transition whether you’re coming up, or going down to play,” said Valkanis.
“This environment helps senior players get their form back, because we’re playing the same way.”
The Adelaide United Youth Team will play Melbourne City at the Adelaide Shores Football Centre this Saturday at 2:30pm. Free entry.
Adelaide United FC Foxtel National Youth League Squad for 2014/15 Season
Anthony Costa (Deputy Captain)
Jack Bladen (Captain)
Christopher Skull (Deputy Captain)
Jordan Pudler (Vice Captain)