Looking Up

Competition in the National Youth League is just as intense in the Hyundai A-League

Competition in the National Youth League is just as intense in the Hyundai A-League, but Newcastle Jets captain TAYLOR REGAN says it-s only a good thing

From sixth spot to second, only seven points separate the sides. There are twelve rounds left and competition for a finals berth is getting hotter each week. Sound familiar?

The National Youth League is producing just as much drama as its senior counterpart and although Sydney FC look to have opened a gap at the top, those teams behind aren-t about to give up.

Newcastle Jets, for instance, did the league a favour last week by pulling off one of the shocks of the season, pegging back the high-flying Sydney 3-2. First on the scoresheet was Taylor Regan and the Jets skipper is quick to point out the result wasn-t that much of an upset.

“It was a bit of a shock considering where we-re sitting on the table as opposed to Sydney,” he says, “but all the boys thought we could do it. Everyone just wanted to prove that we could [beat Sydney].

“There-s no doubt within the squad that we-ve got the ability, it-s just a matter of everyone putting in for each other.”

Consistency hasn-t been easily achieved for the young Jets as, like many youth teams, they-ve struggled to maintain the same team and learn to play together over a short time - but there is enough proof that those who do perform will get their chance at a higher level.

The likes of Ben Kantarovski and Marko Jesic have taken their first steps in the senior squad this season, and Regan is confident there are plenty more opportunities for NYL players.

“You-ve already seen it at a couple of other clubs - and at Newcastle with Marko - that there are players making it out of the youth teams who can step up and do a job.

“They were lucky enough to get a chance and have done really well to make that position their own. It gives you the confidence to think I-m not that far away. I-d like to think it-s just around the corner, but you never know. If the opportunity arises, I-ll take it with both hands.

“[I-ve learnt] there is a lot of good talent out there. And with another two A-League clubs to come in, that-s another 50 professional contracts. Where are they going to get them from? I-m guessing a lot from the state league and the NYL.”

Despite dreams of a professional career, like any good player Regan knows his focus must be on the next game - second-placed Queensland Roar in Brisbane - and he admits it won-t be easy against the toughest defence in the league.

“Queensland are a good side - we-ve played them twice and they-ve beaten us 3-0 both times.

“Hopefully after last weekend we-re confident we can go there and get a result. Sydney have run away with it a little bit, they-re clear at the top, but there-s only seven points between second and second-last. Obviously there-re no semi-finals, so it would be great to finish in the top two.”