Three more suit up for Asian sojourn

Three of the Central Coast Mariners’ standouts from the club’s inaugural National Youth League (NYL) campaign have been rewarded for their efforts with a call up to the Mariners’ AFC Champions League squad – Matthew Lewis, Nathan Sherlock and Brady Smith each confirmed to be among those that will fly the Central Coast flag in Asia from March.

Three of the Central Coast Mariners- standouts from the club-s inaugural National Youth League (NYL) campaign have been rewarded for their efforts with a call up to the Mariners- AFC Champions League squad - Matthew Lewis, Nathan Sherlock and Brady Smith each confirmed to be among those that will fly the Central Coast flag in Asia from March onwards.

Between them, Lewis, Sherlock and Smith have contributed 41 appearances to the Mariners- maiden NYL campaign and are now in line to contribute to another competition where the Mariners will appear for the first time.

The youngest of the trio, midfielder Lewis, became the youngest Mariners player to be capped in the Hyundai A-League in the final round of the regular season against Adelaide United at Bluetongue Stadium recently - his brief cameo off the bench coming at 18 years, 7 months and 19 days of age.

Orange born and raised defender Sherlock, 19, has been a standout of the Mariners- NYL charge despite missing a significant slice of the season through injury.

Capped by his country at Qantas Joeys (Under 17-s) level, Sherlock has excelled under the guidance of iconic Australian international defender and Mariners NYL Head Coach Alex Tobin and was added to the Mariners- Hyundai A-League roster mid-season as short-term injury cover but ultimately not called up to the match day squad.

Local product and livewire striker Smith was another on the cusp of making his Hyundai A-League debut, but has mainly flourished in the NYL where he tops the Mariners- goal scoring charts with three strikes from 15 appearances to date.

Smith, who has captained the Mariners- NYL side in the occasional absence of Sherlock, has made a handful of appearances for the Mariners- senior side in friendly fixtures and netted his breakthrough senior goal in yellow and navy against NSW Super League outfit the Northern Tigers in July of last year.

With the inclusions of Lewis, Sherlock and Smith in addition to the previously announced signings Shane Huke, Adam Kwasnik and Nick Rizzo, the Mariners- AFC Champions League 2009 squad now numbers 26, four short of the maximum of 30 allowed by the AFC.

"We congratulate Matthew, Nathan and Brady for showcasing to the club their potential value to our AFC Champions League campaign and, from our perspective, we are delighted to welcome them on board for this historic time of our club-s history," said Mariners Executive Chairman Lyall Gorman.

"The natural pathway for elite young players to progress from the NYL through to the Hyundai A-League and, in this instance, to the AFC Champions League, has been the overwhelming positive of the first ever NYL season and we know that Matthew, Nathan and Brady will be introduced to our senior set up with adequate experience at an elite level.

"With just four playing spots remaining for us to potentially pursue, we may well have made the final additions to our AFC Champions League 2009 squad and I can speak on behalf of the playing group and coaching staff when I say that we-re very impressed with the talent that we-ve been able to assemble for this prestigious competition."

Matthew Lewis

Date of Birth 6 June 1990 Place of Birth Sydney, Australia Position Midfielder Height 173cm Weight 65kg

Nathan Sherlock

Date of Birth 2 February 1990 Place of Birth Orange, Australia Position Defender Height 181cm Weight 75kg

Brady Smith

Date of Birth 10 August 1989 Place of Birth Gosford, Australia Position Striker Height 180cm Weight 80kg

The Mariners- bid for a berth in the Hyundai A-League Preliminary Final will continue at Suncorp Stadium on Friday, 13 February, when they again take on the Queensland Roar in the Minor Semi Final - 2nd Leg. Kick off is at 8.30pm AEDT.

The Mariners will next be at Bluetongue Stadium for the opening match of their maiden Asian adventure - an AFC Champions League 2009 clash against Korean FA Cup winners Pohang Steelers on Wednesday, 11 March.

Ticketing information for Mariners Members and supporters will be made available in the coming weeks.