Huge changes at Twin City Wanderers with seven of last year's starting 11 departing the club

BIG LOSS: Twin City Wanderers veteran Jason Gilbert has hung up the boots. Gilbert is one of seven from last year's starting 11 no longer at the club for the upcoming season.

BIG LOSS: Twin City Wanderers veteran Jason Gilbert has hung up the boots. Gilbert is one of seven from last year's starting 11 no longer at the club for the upcoming season.

The Twin City Wanderers senior men’s squad will be almost unrecognisable when it runs onto the park for the opening round of the Albury Wodonga Football Association (AWFA) season on Sunday.

Incredibly, the Wanderers will be without seven of its starting 11 from last year, with the club’s young talent called upon to fill the void.

Coach: Cayne Wilhelm

Last year: 4th

Fittest player in pre-season: Brendan Hasler

Key man: Jarrod Murphy

Gains: Brendan Hasler (Wodonga Diamonds), Jason Bowe (Griffith), Kur Kon Maica (Wodonga Heart), Jesse Donelly (year off), Mohammad Abbas (Murray United), Callum Speirs, Michael Shimmin, Cody Walsh (junior promotion)

Losses: Tyler Scott (Murray United), Jason Gilbert, Josh Taylor (retired), Shane Hasler (boxing), Nikola Bukvic (Wodonga Diamonds), Horacio Ingles, Mitch Walker

What the club says: “We’ve lost a lot of depth and experience, but we’ve got some good kids there,” Twin City Wanderers president Harry Wilhelm said.

“They’re big losses and it’s certainly hard to cover that.

“Our juniors have been good for a long time, we just need to draw on them now.”

Wilhelm’s eldest son Shaun started the pre-season as senior coach, but was forced to step down due to work and study commitments, opening the door for younger brother Cayne.

Our juniors have been good for a long time, we just need to draw on them now.

Harry Wilhelm

“Cayne said he’ll do it and ran with it and he’s got some of the senior guys helping him out,” Wilhelm said.

“We’ve got a good blend of senior players and kids.

“If we can make the finals it will be a good goal for us, we probably won’t be top three.

“We’ll see how we go, we’ll certainly be competitive.

“There’s a real buzz around the club with all the kids coming through, it makes a difference.”

What we say: Twin City has arguably been the hardest hit of all AWFA clubs during the off-season and will face an extremely challenging year.

Wanderers play their first four matches away from home against Boomers, Albury Hotspurs, Myrtleford and Melrose before the Easter break, which will be a good guide to see how they’ve responded to the loss of several key players.

Twin City’s clash with Boomers in the opening round on Sunday will provide extra motivation for the club, with the Josh Kennedy Testimonial Shield at stake.

The former Socceroo previously played for both clubs, with the trophy established last year and contested during the home and away season.

Prediction: 5th