YOUNGER CROWD: Clayton Zane, far right, at Jets youth training at Ray Watt Oval on Thursday. Picture: Michael ParrisJETS youth team coach Clayton Zane will put pressure on his players to beat Western Sydney Wanderers in Sydney on Saturday as they chase a spot in the National Youth League final.
The Jets (10 points) are second in Conference B behind Sydney FC (12) with three games to play, and Zane welcomes thegame at Popondetta Park as a chance totest theirmettle.
“If we want to stay in contention to finish top, we have to win this game,” he said.“This week there will be a big emphasis on results,because they have to learn to win, and we have to choose some games where we put the responsibility on the players, because we have to see who can cope with the pressure of dealing with that.”
Zane has been pleasantly surprised by his side’s progress in the national under-21 competition given about half of his squad are 18 or under.
“We’ve probably done a bit better than I expected, just based on the age of the group.The training environment’s been a little bit weakened by what the first team’s needed. They’ve called up some of our older players, and we usually rely on the older players to dictate the level of our sessions.
“Pawiak, Cowburn etcetera have all gone up to train with the first team, so I’ve had to work four or five times a week with a younger group, but they’ve stood up really well.In saying that, we’ve still got a long way to go.”
Zane expects to have at least two senior squad members, striker Andy Brennan and midfielder Josh Barresi, on deck for the game against Wanderers, who are fourth on seven points.
Many of Zane’s squadhave graduated from the Emerging Jets program, and Zane said their exposure toplayers on A-League contractsdemonstrated there was a pathway to the first team.
“Even more so at the moment when the club’s in transition,” Zane said. “There’s spaces available on the [first-team] bench every week, and I’m in regular contact with Scott and JP. They’re aware of who’s doing well down here. They’re aware of the ones we’ve identified as potential A-League players.”