A largely inexperienced AWFA squad has been selected to take on NPL club Goulburn Valley Suns in Shepparton on Saturday night.
Former Melrose coach Kade Rixon has taken the reins of the AWFA squad and will look to give the Suns a good test ahead of their opening round clash against Bulleen on March 20.
Boomers coach Andrew Grove, Wangaratta's Ryan Luty and Stoycho Ivanov, Cobram's Justin Smith, Albury United's Sam Mason and Myrtleford's Jesse Stephens all have more than a decade of senior football under the belt, but the bulk of the 16-man squad is under 25.
Goalkeepers Lachie James and Will Haberfield both impressed in Murray United youth teams and will be given the opportunity to test themselves against quality NPL opposition.
"It's a decent looking team. We had a few pull out this week which made it a bit more difficult, so we turned our attention pretty quickly to playing the young ones and focusing on getting them some experience," Rixon said.
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"I haven't seen much of Will, but I thought we needed to take a bit of cover with us because if Lachie is only young and he gets clattered it might be me standing between the sticks and you don't want that (laughs).
"We'll probably start Stoycho (Ivanov) with Nick Brown as centre backs and have Justin Smith from Cobram at left back and Sam Mason at right back.
"I'm not really sure how they're (GV Suns) going to start, but if they're going to have a full strength 11, I'd rather have a few more senior players start to let them take the brunt of it and hopefully ease the younger ones into it.
"In saying that, we'll probably still start with the likes of Josh Masters, Freddy Myers and Benny White in the midfield, so there's three good young guys in there straight away.
"We'll definitely play Melkie (Woldemichael) up front and it gives him a bit of freedom rather than putting him at right back and telling him to stick to the right hand side."
Rixon said Grove will play an important role on the field with his many years of experience as a coach in the AWFA.
"It will be good to have blokes like 'Grovesy' in there with the younger ones where he can direct them and coach them on the field a little bit with where they should and shouldn't be positioned," Rixon said.
"Grovesy is classy enough to keep things simple and have his one or two touches and create things for us.
"We've got 16 and ideally we don't want to play the older group and then the younger group, we want to throw a good mix out there so the young guys don't get beaten up.
"I'm pretty happy with the group we've got and it's more about exposing them to the level than trying to get a result.
"Hopefully it doesn't blow out and they come away from it feeling pretty good about themselves."
Former Murray United players Darcy Pawlik and Jordan Hore are both expected to line up for the Suns, while Sean Pye played in a trial game for the club against Dandenong City last weekend and is set for another run.
The clash kicks-off at 6.30pm at John McEwan Reserve.
Andrew Grove, Nick Brown, Josh Perry, Freddy Myers, Melkie Woldemichel (Boomers), Sam Mason (Albury United), Stoycho Ivanov, Josh Masters, Ryan Luty (Wangaratta), Jesse Stephens, Patrick Ntigonza (Myrtleford), Ben White (St Pats), Justin Smith (Cobram), Seb Dalitz (Melrose), Lachie James (Albury City), Will Haberfield (Albury Hotspurs).
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