As Ufuk Talay promises to give youth a go, here are five faces to watch at Sydney FC

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Sky Blues fans may have been frustrated at seeing academy products such as Zac Sapsford and Calem Nieuwenhof go on to excel at other clubs, but a host of young faces are pushing for a role in Ufuk Talay’s reshaping of the Sydney first team. Here are five already making their mark.

Adam Pavlesic

There’s something in the water in the Pavlesic household as Adam’s brother, Anthony, signed for Bayern Munich a few months ago – but Adam is highly rated at Sydney having been identified as a talent several years ago by current Socceroos goalkeeping coach John Crawley.

Four appearances at the U17 World Cup in 2019 underlined that potential, all the more remarkable given that Pavlesic didn’t play football until he was 11 years old. With two appearances in the Asian Champions League and one in the A-League the shotstopper has had to bide his time at the Sky Blues.

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Mitch Glasson

This has been quite the year for the 17-year-old striker for whom big things are expected at Sydney (not least on the basis on what he achieved already). Glasson scored for the Australian U17 team that made the quarterfinals of the Asian Cup in June, then converted a penalty on his Sydney debut in the Round of 32 shootout against the Mariners.

The winger then came off the bench for his A-League debut under Steve Corica in the opening round of this season against Melbourne Victory. No wonder the Sky Blues have tied him down to a professional contract – their own website describes him as the hardest worker at training.

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Wataru Kamijo

A defensive midfielder known for his aggression in winning the ball, Kamijo signed a scholarship deal with Sydney just weeks ago and was on the bench for the loss to Brisbane in Round 2 of the Isuzu UTE A-League this season.

At the start of this year Kamijo was selected for the Australian schoolboys squad that toured the UK and Ireland and not only earned one man of the match award against Swansea but was then voted player of the tour by his peers.

Zac de Jesus

First-team football can be a baptism of fire as de Jesus found out the hard way against the Wanderers, who attacked the fullback’s part of the pitch from the off in Saturday’s derby and saw him replaced at halftime.

But de Jesus’s progress has been assured since he was voted Wollongong Wolves’s U13 player of the year in 2019 – as a striker – and the fullback chose to sign a scholarship deal with Sydney after excelling at the U17 Asian Cup earlier in the year, in the process rejecting offers from other A-League clubs and overseas.

Matthew Scarcella

Comfortable right across the midfield, Scarcella was one of the first of this year’s academy graduates at Sydney to earn a scholarship contract with the first team. The 19-year-old spent nine months at Greek side Xanthi after excelling at Sydney Olympic in the NPL before returning to feature in the Sky Blues academy.

To give an idea of his temperament, Scarcella was substituted on with one minute of extra time left in the Round of 32 Australia Cup tie against the Mariners in August – and promptly stepped up to convert a spotkick in the resulting penalty shootout.