Cameron Devlin, Marco Tilio, Calem Nieuwenhof, Nectar Triantis, Ryan Teague. All are graduates that Sydney FC’s academy would be proud to name among their alumni; all are players that made their most considerable A-League contributions at sides other than the Sky Blues.

The loyalty Steve Corica showed the core group that served him so well through the glory years of his tenure as Sydney manager was justified by the silverware they won, but did force a generation of their finest talent out the door. Opportunities eventually came for the likes of Patrick Wood and Jaiden Kucharski, but the belated regeneration came at the ultimate expense of results for Corica.

In contrast, new manager Ufuk Talay has placed youth front and centre since stepping into the role after Round 3, and has the side shaping up nicely after just one loss in their past eight starts. Saturday’s 3-1 win over the Mariners saw a standout debut for Hayden Matthews, paired in defence with fellow 19-year old Jake Girdwood-Reich, the duo two of nine in the matchday squad to have passed through the academy.

‘There’s a lot of potential in your young players. Since I’ve come in we run what we call ‘elite sessions’ where we rotate the young players in the academy, from U15-U19s, between myself, Zdrila [David Zdrilic], Matthew Nash; it’s only once a week but we get to see how they’re going.

‘If there’s a player we think is ready to come and train with the first team we invite them into that environment. That was Hayden’s first start, alongside another young defender in Jake. The academy works with them to get them to a certain point and then, hopefully, doors open for them to build their careers.’

The defeat of the Mariners was more comprehensive than the final scoreline suggested; Sydney’s trio of goals flew in inside twenty minutes and should have been four but for Patrick Wood’s astonishing miss – ‘these things will happen and he’ll learn from it’ – and has them in the finals placings at the end of the round for just the second time this campaign..

‘Hopefully there’s momentum building and that game on the weekend gives the players belief. They’ve been very reciprocal to what we’ve wanted as we’ve tried to change their behaviour, mentality and attitude. They’ve been great in that sense.

“We’re playing some good football, as a team we’re expecting them to score a lot of goals so we’ve got to continue that good, high-pressing game, and then when we’ve got the ball find ways to break the opposition down.’

One academy product who continues to bide his time, hoping said doors may open, is 21-year old back-up goalkeeper Adam Pavlesic. A distinguished U17 Joeys representative touted for big things, he remains second to long-time No1 Andrew Redmayne.

A Redmayne red card opened the door for a League debut and follow-up start in December, before order was restored. Meanwhile, Pavlesic’s younger brother, Anthony, continues to take his first steps with Bayern Munich.

‘It’s difficult for goalkeepers, they’re fighting for one position but Pava’s been training well, he had his opportunity against the Victory, which was a tough game for him.

‘We sat down and had the conversation with him and Redders and said we’d asked Redders to do something regarding the way we play and he was caught out, conceding a red card, but I found it hard to punish him for something we’d asked him to do.

‘But he works hard in training, it’s great to have that competition and I’m sure his opportunity will come.’