The most immediate focus for Coach Josep Gombau may be the upcoming Hyundai A-League campaign, but the pre season has also provided him a chance to see some prospective United talent for the future.
Up until the end of August, four youngsters from the Australian Institute of Sport’s football program – Marc Marino, Ben Warland, Mark Ochieng, Dylan Smith and Bright Appiah, will train with United’s senior squad.
With all of the boys in the AIS program on a three week break, Adelaide United General Manager of Football Operations Michael Petrillo extended an invitation to the quartet to come and train with the Reds’ A-League squad.
All four were born in 1996 and all bar Appiah, who originates from Sydney, come from South Australia. Notably, the club also extended an invitation to another South Australian youngster, Jordan Pudler, but he unfortunately declined.
The objectives and benefits of bringing the four promising young talents into the Reds’ pre season are two-fold. Firstly, it gives the players a taste of being in a professional A-League environment and gives them an awareness of what is expected and required to make it to the next level. Secondly, and just as significantly, it is about the club keeping in contact with some of South Australia’s best young talent and lets them know that the club is interested and keeping an eye on their progress.
Furthermore, not only has it given Gombau the opportunity to assess their talent and technical ability, but it has also increased the numbers and brought some added excitement to training.
All four played the second half of the trial game against local club Birkalla and Petrillo says they each have the potential to be exciting players of the future.
“Warland is a left sided central defender who went over to the AIS from SASI (the South Australian Sports Institute) at just 14 years of age,” Petrillo said.
“Ochieng is another graduate of the SASI program, and is a right back who can also play as a right winger – he is quick and strong on the ball.”
“Dylan Smith is a clever central midfielder who can play in a variety of midfield roles and scored twice against Birkalla, while Bright (Appiah) is a forward from Sydney and a player we were interested in having a closer look at.”
The quartet will all be part of the AIS squad for the upcoming National Youth League season.
In addition, former Melbourne Victory midfielder Theo Markelis is also spending a week long trial with the Reds. Markelis came to Gombau’s attention after being recently released by the Victory, the 21 year old paying his own way to Adelaide for a trial. While Petrillo emphasised the fact that the Reds currently have a full playing roster, the objective of having the likes of Markelis trialling is about giving the player a chance to impress and the club a chance to see what they have to offer.
“Even though the club does not currently have any room on the roster, it is about having a look at him (Markelis) and then deciding if it is something possibly worth looking at down the track,” Petrillo said.
Markelis will continue training with the Reds until the end of the week.