OLYROOS coach Graham Arnold had not worked closely with Jets utility Angus Thurgate before the national under-23 camp which culminated with a 2-1 win over Macarthur on November 17.
You can bet your bottom dollar it won't be the last time.
"I love him," Arnold told the Newcastle Herald. "His energy, his strength, his cleverness ... he is very impressive."
Thurgate was not a part of the Olyroos squad which beat Uzbekistan 1-0 in the play-off for third at the Asian under-23 championships in January to secure a place at the Tokyo Olympics - the first time Australia have qualified since Beijing in 2008.
However, his form and that of Johnny Koutroumbis for the Jets in the final stages of the last A-League season earned them an invite to the training camp.
I love him. His energy, his strength, his cleverness ... he is very impressive.- Graham Arnold
Connor O'Toole and new arrival Ramy Najjarine, who is on loan from Melbourne City, are Olyroos regulars and were also a part of the 26-man, 10-day camp in Sydney.
The get-together was the first of four before an 18-man squad is finalised for Tokyo.
Arnold had high praise for the four Jets, none more so than Thurgate.
"It has been a delight to work with Gus for 10 days," Arnold said. "I hadn't done that before this week.
"I played him in a completely different role than he plays for Newcastle.
"The way he took that detail in, and the way he did his job for the team was fantastic.
"He has a great future."
Thurgate came on at half-time and was deployed as a false nine, dropping into midfield to get on the ball, in the 3-0 loss to Sydney FC.
He was promoted to the starting side, lining up on the right of a front three, against Macarthur.
"You look at Angus and his physical capabilities, he can probably play four or five roles in any team in my view," Arnold said.
Najjarine, a gifted attacking midfielder, started against Sydney FC and came off the bench to score the winner against Macarthur.
O'Toole, after playing only a handful of minutes in the first game, started at left fullback in the second and caused problems with his overlapping runs.
Koutroumbis was used off the bench at right centre back in both games.
"Newcastle fans have four great kids there that will be exciting to watch," Arnold said. "The four of them did very well.
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