Youth league massive boost for returning players

The new national youth league which kicks off on Friday night will be a huge boost for the Hyundai A-League. That is the belief of Alex Tobin, the man in charge of guiding the Central Coast Mariners youth league side.

The new national youth league which kicks off on Friday night will be a huge boost for the Hyundai A-League.

That is the belief of Alex Tobin, the man in charge of guiding the Central Coast Mariners youth league side into battle in Round 1 against Perth Glory at Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford.

Tobin, who is also one of the Mariners A-League assistant coaches, believes the new competition will not only give the country's best young players a chance to shine, but also give experienced campaigners a chance to return from injury in a top-line competition.

"Without the youth league players coming back from injury have to wait for chances off the bench in the A-League," Tobin said.

"That's not ideal for the team or the player. In the youth league you can have up to four over age players every week which is great. We've already got 10 young players signed and we'll be using guys this week who are not picked in the A-League."

Tobin, who will be assisted by Damien Brown, is yet to finalise his squad for Friday night but said veteran striker Nik Mrdja is a chance to play.

Mrdja has been battling a knee injury for three years and is slowly working his way back to peak fitness. The youth league will provide the former Perth goalpoacher with the perfect chance to regain his scoring touch

Other senior players likely to feature in the youth league in the coming weeks are Greg Owens, Andre Gumprecht and Dean Heffernan.

Tobin said the club would announce its new youth league captain at a training session at Gosford on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Tobin is confident the Mariners will hit back from a disappointing 2-2 draw with Melbourne and turn in a strong performance against the Glory in round six of the A-League on Friday night.

The fourth-placed Mariners are still to win at home this season but need three points to stay in touch with co-competition leaders Sydney and Melbourne.