Perth Glory coach Alistair Edwards has welcomed a chance to blood his home-grown youngsters away to Brisbane Roar, and taken a swipe at the methods of predecessor Ian Ferguson.
The Glory, without captain Jacob Burns through suspension and missing injured defenders William Gallas and Scott Jamieson, will have plenty of raw Western Australians in their ranks for the daunting assignment away to the A-League leaders on Saturday evening.
But Edwards isn't concerned about exposing his young charges to the competition's front-runners at Suncorp Stadium, instead issuing a thinly veiled condemnation of former coach Ferguson for his failure to properly utilise local talent.
"All through this year, you'll see what we've done previously and what we're going to do moving forward is that every single one of our players in the squad are going to be given an opportunity to develop," he said.
"It's a great opportunity for us. We've got a very young squad going over and that should be no surprise to anyone, because that's part of our strategy going forward.
"What we've got is a situation where we're developing a championship-winning team and we're playing against a team that's already developed their team. So it's a great opportunity to see where we're at.
"It's never happened at this club (before). We had so many talented players. Adam Taggart, he's just re-signed to Newcastle and shouldn't have left in the first place.
"He's the kind of player we should be keeping in WA. And while I'm involved in this club and Gareth Naven's involved in this club, we're going to make sure our young players are given the opportunity to play in this state and not other states."
With Scott Jamieson set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines due to a serious Achilles injury, Jack Clisby and Riley Woodcock are vying for the vacant left-back role, with Edwards drawing parallels between the later and another young defender who has forced his way into the first team this season.
"Riley Woodcock is a bit like Matty (Matthew) Davies," he said.
"He's a local product. He's been involved with three junior clubs in Western Australia ... He's been part of the national training centre programs with all the state teams. And he's a Young Socceroo at the moment.
"A bit like with Matty Davies, Jamie Maclaren, Ryan Edwards, Brandon O'Neill and Cameron Edwards - they're the top talents in the country and they know with this club they're going to get opportunities. We're here to develop a squad of 26, not a squad of 11."
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