FOOTBALL: The average age of an A-League player last season was 27.8 - the oldest it has been in 40 years of Australian football.
That's not an issue, according to Sydney FC manager Graham Arnold who has delivered a scathing rebuke of his fellow A-League managers' anger over their young stars being taken for an Olyroos campaign at the Under-23 Asian Championship in China.
"I don't understand what the fuss is about. I did hear a comment about the young players going, but I didn't know the A-League was a development league," Arnold said.
"There's been a lot of talk around the senior players because of the international windows but I don't see the A-League as a development league. It's a meaningful competition in which clubs expect to win trophies."
Arnold, who has been criticized for the lack of youth players finding their way into his Sydney FC line-ups, will not lose a single player to the Olyroos campaign.
"I was maybe the only coach who looked at the international program before the season started," Arnold said as he defended the fact that his league leaders and defending champions comprise not a single player heading off internationally.
Sydney FC boast a legion of internationally capped youth players, however the Sky Blues youngsters have been unable to dislodge a starting XI full of experienced players.
"The youngsters here are coming through," Arnold said.
"At the Mariners they were ready and I'd put a lot of work into them; [Tom] Rogic, [Mat] Ryan, [Trent] Sainsbury, [Mustafa] Amini, the list goes on. The ones I've got here you'll see in the next 12 months."
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