It’s been their worst Hyundai A-League season in Western Sydney Wanderers FC’s history but Ian Crook feels they may have unearthed some young gems for the future.
Teenager Liam Youlley and right-back Shayne D’Cunha were the latest youngsters to make their full debut in Saturday night’s 2-1 defeat at home to Perth Glory.
Midfielder Youlley capped an impressive first senior game with the equalizing goal early in the second half.
The duo joined the likes of fellow youngsters Steve Kuzmanovski, Jonathan Asropotamitis, Alusine Fofanah, Daniel Alessi and Jaushua Sotirio to get opportunities throughout the season.
“It’s always been a policy here to make our youth team young,” said Crook, filling in at the press conference for coach Tony Popovic who had to catch a flight to China.
“I think it’s the youngest youth side apart from the AIS in that competition and it’s proved its fruits.
“The boys tonight including (Kuzmanovski) have come in and done really well. That’s the pleasing side.”
But as Crook also pointed out, it doesn’t take away from the fact they lost another game they were right in the thick of.
A lack of urgency in defence allowing Andy Keogh to grab a winner midway through the second half.
“It probably typified our season a little bit,” Crook conceded.
“We probably feel we did enough to get something out of the game which we did a lot of times this season.
“But again you have to score more than the opposition and we haven’t done that again.
“You don’t want things to end when you’re on a bit of a down, it would have been nice to finish on a high.”
The Wanderers’ season isn't over just yet, with one final game to come in the AFC Champions League away to Guangzhou Evergrande on May 5.
The defending champions must win that and hope the other match in the group ends in a draw.
“It’s going to be a difficult task and one that 99 percent of people will say ‘you’re done now’,” Crook said.
“But this clubs been based on proving people wrong and we’ll be looking to do that again.”