YOUNGSTERS Hayden Morton and Michael Neill have been rewarded for their stellar form in the 2012/13 National Youth League (NYL) competition with two-year Hyundai A-League contracts with Central Coast Mariners
YOUNGSTERS Hayden Morton and Michael Neill have been rewarded for their stellar form in the 2012/13 National Youth League (NYL) competition with two-year Hyundai A-League contracts with Central Coast Mariners.
Versatile defender Morton and left-back Neill, both 18, have starred for John McLafferty-s youth team this campaign, and have impressed the Mariners coaching staff in their efforts at first team training.
Indeed, Morton has already shown his capacity to handle life at the A-League level. The Qantas Young Socceroo made his debut appearance in Australia-s top flight in round 13 this season against Sydney FC, handling himself impressively in a high-pressure encounter at Allianz Stadium.
Having been selected in Paul Okon-s last three Qantas Young Socceroos squads, Morton is in the reckoning to feature at the FIFA Under 20 World Cup in Turkey later this year.
Neill previously played with Sutherland Sharks in the New South Wales Premier League and has been rewarded for his cultured, composed play down the left flank this campaign, as well as his progress since joining the Club.
While Morton and Neill-s senior contracts include the 2013/14 and 2014/15 Hyundai A-League seasons, both players have also signed extensions to their current NYL deals to ensure they are part of Central Coast's 2013 AFC Champions League squad.
19-year-old goalkeeper David Bradasevic has also extended his youth contract for the Mariners- third foray into Asia-s premier club competition.
Morton and Neill today expressed their delight in signing for the reigning Hyundai A-League Premiers.
“I am really happy with getting a professional contract,” Morton said. “It-s been my dream since I was young and I am really pleased.”
“I have a lot of room to improve and I think Arnie (Graham Arnold) is the best coach, especially for young boys. Hopefully I can improve a lot and keep doing well,” he added.
Neill said he is looking to learn from arguably Central Coast-s most consistent player, Josh Rose, during his time with the Club.
“When I am sitting off on the sidelines Mossy (Phil Moss) and Arnie get me to watch the little things that he (Rose) does and just take into account how he plays as player. There are little things he does that I can do better,” Neill said.
“It-s a privilege to be playing at such a great club and I-m just looking to develop as a player.”
Central Coast Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold said Morton and Neill are two players who deserve their chance as fully-fledged professionals.
“Hayden is an under 20 international with the Young Socceroos and has had one appearance with us already. He-s fitted into the group real well, and we-re expecting big things off him,” Arnold said.
“Micky Neill, he-s a left footer, a young Josh Rose. Both have been given two-year contracts to give them time to develop and hopefully by the time Josh Rose retires Micky Neill will be ready.”
“We-re about youth up here at the Mariners. When I first came in two-and-a-half years ago now I signed six 18-year-olds, and I like to give them two years to develop,” he said.
Central Coast Mariners Chairman, Mr Peter Turnbull, added: “It is really exciting to see the chain of great young talent continuing to come into the Mariners and being given the chance to compete at the highest level. We expect big things from the lads, as we do from all players we give their first pro contracts to.”