Western United youngsters leaving John Aloisi bullish for future

Matthew Grimaldi Jordan Lauton Western United

Western United Isuzu UTE A-League Men Head Coach John Aloisi spoke glowingly of the impact of his side’s contingent of young players.

Across Australia Cup and Isuzu UTE A-League fixtures this season, Aloisi has handed seven professional debuts to players straight out of the Western United Academy, while 19-year-old Kane Vidmar also made his first senior appearance after signing from Adelaide United.

During a period of the season where United has had multiple players out with injuries, Aloisi has consistently put his faith in young players to perform, and that faith has been repaid.

Oliver Lavale and Matthew Grimaldi both scored in the Australia Cup Round of 16 win against Gold Coast Knights, while the former has one goal and one assist in 10 Isuzu UTE A-League appearances.

Aloisi said he has been delighted with the impact of the players coming into the first-team, insisting that they are not being named merely for the sake for it.

“We don’t want them here just to make up numbers, we want them pushing to play week in, week out, and when the chance does come along to play – that they’re ready for it,” he said.

“That’s up to us, but it’s also up to the individual. They’ve been doing that, they’ve been working really well. We’ve had a lot of injuries of late, but that gives someone else that chance to play and to show what they’re capable of doing.

“We’re confident that we’re still building with those younger players, and there’ll be other experienced players coming back in and we’ll be better for it because there’ll be competition for places.”

WATCH: Western United young guns involved in first team training

From the beginning of last season to the beginning of this season, Western United slashed the average age of its contracted playing squad by more than two years, dropping from 26.6 to 24.5.

That age figure doesn’t include teenagers Zach Lisolajski, James York and Max Bisetto, nor 20-year-old Jordan Lauton who have all made their debuts direct from the Academy on youth development agreements.

Zach Lisolajski, 18, has come off the bench in each of Western United’s last two matches

Aloisi noted a change of philosophy which saw a large number of young players recruited and promoted in the off-season, something he believes will set the Club up for the future.

“It’s really pleasing for the Club in general. It’s been a shift that we made sure we focused on this season,” he said.

“We ended up having a big turnover in the off-season and we’ve got a lot of young players. We’re talking about the ones that have made their debut from the Academy or from elsewhere, but there are also players starting week in, week out that only made their debut last season or the season before.”

“They’re doing well, we know we’re going to be better for this, and the players are going to be better for it, and they have been doing well when they have been given the opportunities. We also understand there’s still a lot of work to do as a group, but also those individuals to keep improving and try to get to the level that we believe they can get to.”

Not only is it the players that are showing the strong ties between the first team and the Academy, but that is also demonstrated in the coaching staff.

Senior Academy head coach Diogo Ferreira and assistant coach Andrew Durante were elevated to new roles in the first team staff in January, ensuring that they are continually part of the development of players that join Aloisi’s squad in training.

Performance Analyst Harry Reading also joined the Isuzu UTE A-League environment after his work in the Academy space as Western United continues to develop for the future.

The VPL Men’s 1 season kicks off this weekend with Western United taking on Kingston City, and Aloisi said he will be keeping a watchful eye on the progress of the Club’s youngsters.

“We always keep an eye on those games, and there will be players that might not be in the first team squad and they can end up playing in the VPL,” he said.

“We know that competition will be pretty strong this year with both Victory and City in it and a few other teams that will be pushing to go up. We’re happy that’s starting, I would like the seasons to be aligned but they’re not, so we can give younger players more opportunities to play.”

There are 13 matches still to be played in the Isuzu UTE A-League and with Aloisi already putting his faith in young players this season, there could be more emerging young guns given the opportunity to pull on the Green and Black in 2024.