Arnold: Youth policy best for FFA Cup
Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold says the performance of Brandon O'Neill in the FFA Cup win over Sorrento FC shows he is right to give younger players their chance.
The Sky Blues overcame the potential banana skin provided by the Western Australian side at nib Stadium on Wednesday as goals from Shane Smeltz and Max Burgess gave them a 2-0 win in their Round of 32 tie.
The club has seen a number of high-profile departures since their Grand Final defeat to Melbourne Victory in May, including Golden Boot winner Marc Janko and defender Nikola Petkovic.
Some of the new arrivals have been lesser known, including O'Neill who joined along with former Perth Glory teammate Riley Woodcock.
O'Neill is only 21 and was restricted to just three substitute appearances in the A-League for Glory last season but Arnold brought him straight into his side at the start of his two-year deal with the Sky Blues.
He played along with two 20-year-olds, Woodcock and Burgess who joined in the off-season from Newcastle Jets.
Arnold said the FFA Cup, which Sydney are 10000/1 to win outright, was the right environment to give his young players a chance.
They're going to make mistakes and there were mistakes made, but that's what the FFA Cup is for.Graham Arnold
"They've obviously got to learn, they're going to make mistakes and there were mistakes made, but that's what the FFA Cup is for - to give the kids an opportunity," he said.
"I thought Brandon was excellent. He gives us something we don't have in that part of the field and that is a defensive-minded player.
"Good passer of the ball, but gives aggression as well; I think young Brandon did exceptionally well."
Arnold said he had given his players an extended break before starting pre-season training, given that they would be competing on three fronts. As well as the A-League and FFA Cup, the Sky Blues will be involved in the Asian Champions League from February's group stage.
Sydney FC are 11/10 to win their first match of the A-League season against Melbourne City, who are 23/10 with the draw 5/2.
Don't forget all of the fantastic markets we have to offer, including In-Play betting, can be accessed on your mobile phone with the new and improved bet365 On The Move. T & Cs apply.
View all Soccer betting