IT will be a “very young” Wangaratta City soccer side that will take the field next season, says new coach Craig Cartwright.
But the Red Devils manager says they have the depth to be a top-three club in the years to come.
Cartwright takes over after a season when the addition of quality imports saw Wangaratta in the thick of final’s action and the only side to beat Wodonga Diamonds.
“We’ll have a very young team next year,” Cartwright said.
“We’re in a building phase at the moment.
“It’ll take around two or three years to build up to a top-three club.”
Cartwright takes the reins from Mario Antonello and Jon Shaw after coaching the Wangaratta under-16s to a historic league and cup double last season.
Keen to improve on Wangaratta’s fifth position this year, Cartwright has already begun pre-season training with his charges in an attempt to impress his own style of football upon them.
“We’ll be playing an attacking brand of football, but also very disciplined both on and off the field,” he said.
“We’ve got to get it right on the training ground if we want to be able to pull it off in matches.”
Cartwright said Wangaratta still had to improve, despite its best season in recent years.
“I think we need to strengthen our defence and midfield first,” he said.
“Football’s not a high scoring game, so if you can keep them out you’ve done well.”
Doubts remain over whether Wangaratta’s trio of British imports Steffan Joseph, Richard Hodgeman and Neil Smith will play for the club next season.
“We’re still not sure what they’re doing,” Cartwright said.
“I don’t think Neil will play and I’m not sure if the others will be around.”
The three Englishmen all finished atop the club’s best and fairest this year, Joseph taking out the top award after scoring 23 goals over the season.
But Cartwright has opened the door to his title-winning youngsters.
He says that there’s the opportunity that some of them might even get the call up to the seniors should they impress in training.
“Some of the younger boys have already played in the reserves, and they want to play more,” he said.
Training has already started at the South Wangaratta Reserve in Shanley Street.