JETS football operations manager and former Johnny Warren Medalist Joel Griffiths rates Angus Thurgate as good as any of the young stars who have taken the A-League by storm in the opening four rounds.
Al Hassan Toure (Adelaide), Connor Metcalfe (Melbourne City) and Sam Silvera (Central Coast) have created headlines with their match-winning exploits.
Thurgate was in the Australian under-20s side alongside Metcalfe and was rewarded for a strong pre-season with a start in the Jets' 4-1 defeat to Sydney FC last Friday night.
Deployed on the left of a diamond-shaped midfield, the 19-year-old was solid without being spectacular on a difficult night for the Jets at Leichhardt Oval.
"I thought he got more and more into the game as it went on," Griffiths said. "We definitely haven't seen the best of him yet. He has so much up-side to his game. I don't think Gus realises how good he could be. He has the ability to break tackles and score goals. The thing about him is that he can play a lot of positions. The more game time he gets, the better he will be."
Griffiths has been impressed by the young talent which has exploded onto the league.
"These guys are putting the league on notice," he said. "I love seeing what they are doing. I have always thought Gus has the potential to be as good as any of them. It is up to him to do the work."
Against Sydney, Thurgate was replaced by Ben Kantarovski at half-time after coach Ernie Merrick altered the formation.
"Gus did a good job," the coach said. "He had a difficult job because he had Rhyan Grant coming down one side and Alex Baumjohann coming inside. He gained 45 minutes experience that will help him in the future, big time."
Thurgate was encouraged that Merrick had the faith to start him against the defending champions.
"It helps build more confidence," he said. "But it was a disappointing result, obviously. It is always going to be hard [to start] when there are senior players in your position. All you can do is try to put your best foot forward."
Thurgate, who has appeared in every match this season, is contracted to Jets until the end of the 2020-21 campaign.
His focus is more on the team than himself.
"We need to start stringing some results together, hopefully starting against Perth on Saturday," he said. "I just concentrate on doing my job for the team. As long as you do your role for the team, and if that helps your team win, you have done your job."
Thurgate is one of four teenagers alongside scholarship holders Makis Petratos, Jack Simmons and Noah James in the Jets squad. Import Bobby Burns and home-grown defender Pat Langlois are 20, while Johnny Koutroumbis and Kosta Petratos are 21.
"There are a lot of young boys in the squad, the more games they can get, the better," Griffiths said. "They have to earn their place. There is definitely competition for spots, especially coming off two losses. It's a good sign that players are putting their hand up and making hard for Ernie to make a decision."
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