Riley Woodcock continued Perth Glory’s emphasis on youth development this season after coming off the bench in the 77th minute against Brisbane Roar to become the fifth player under the age of 22 to make his debut for the WA club this year.
Riley Woodcock continued Perth Glory-s emphasis on youth development this season after coming off the bench in the 77th minute against Brisbane Roar to become the fifth player under the age of 22 to make his debut for the WA club this year.
Despite the disappointing 1-0 loss, the NYL, Young Socceroos and Cockburn City product says it was both a relief and a dream come true to play his first Hyundai A-League game.
“It-s good to get your debut out of the way because the more the season goes on, you keep itching to get a game,” Woodcock said. “It was a great feeling to debut for the club that I supported growing up as a kid and to get a professional debut is something you always dream about.”
With injuries and suspensions affecting a number of regular starters such as Scott Jamieson, Josh Risdon, William Gallas, Shane Smeltz, Travis Dodd and Captain Jacob Burns, Head Coach Alistair Edwards has shown unflinching confidence in his younger players to come into the starting eleven and do the job.
Edwards reinforced Glory-s change in development philosophy and said all the younger players in the squad would continue to get senior opportunities, unlike previous years.
“He (Woodcock) brings a lot of youthful exuberance,” Edwards said. “We're here to develop a squad of 26, not a squad of 11, and all through this year, you'll see that with what we've done previously and what we're going to be doing moving forward is that every single one of our players in our squad is going to be given an opportunity to develop.”
“Whether that's through people being suspended, people being injured or through our rotation policy, which we've been doing through the first 7 games, it's just an opportunity for them to be developed, because it's never happened at this club,” he added.
The 18-year-old has been progressing well through his time with the Perth Glory NYL team and Young Socceroos squad, but said he was fully prepared for his debut against the league-leading Brisbane Roar after watching the match unfold during his first 77 minutes spent on the sidelines.
“It looked like the game was being played at very quick tempo and obviously Brisbane are top of the league and are a team who like to play football so we weren-t having much joy with the ball. We were defending a lot so I was thinking ‘if I-m coming on here, it-s going to be a very hard game to come into-, but I was just itching to get on and debut,” Woodcock said.
“It-s a shame about the loss but it was a good game to come into because you want to be tested at the highest level.”
With an unfortunate season-ending injury to Jamieson, the left fullback can expect to see more game time like he did against the Roar at Suncorp as he continually adjusts to his new surroundings and teammates.
“You see Suncorp on TV and it looks massive but you go there and actually realise it-s up there with some of the stadiums in the Premier League. It holds 50-000-something people, all the facilities, the change rooms and stuff were crazy so it was all just an amazing experience to debut at a ground like that.
“Obviously it (the game) took a bit of adjusting to get the tempo of it, but a lot of the guys help you with that. The better players you play with, the easier it makes it for you, so playing next to Thwaitey and having Sidnei in front of me made it easier adjusting to the tempo of the game,” he said.