An improving Whittlesea Ranges hosts Goulburn Valley Suns today as the second half of the National Premier League Two season continues.
Whittlesea might be ninth on the western division table, but it has found form in recent weeks, particularly after bolstering the squad in the winter transfer window.
Among the inclusion were Anthony Ramzy and Anthony Taranto, who were both part of the Northcote City side that was promoted to the top tier of Victorian football last season.
For that reason, Suns coach Craig Carley was not taking the fixture lightly.
‘‘The table is probably not a fair reflection because they’ve recruited really well,’’ he said.
‘‘Since the transfer window they’ve won two and lost one, but beaten St Albans who are flying on that side of the table and Melbourne City — those are big results.’’
With 10 games left in the season, the Suns’ hopes of getting into promotion contention are hanging on by a mere thread, but that does not mean the side has nothing to play for.
More and more young talents have made their way into the side through the season and Carley said that would continue as the club takes a long-term approach.
‘‘I’ve got no problem playing youngsters; if they’re good enough they’re old enough,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ve got aspirations of finishing as high as we can, but realistically with our capabilities, it can be hard to attract players and we need to be developing our own players.
‘‘That’s why we’ve embarked on the project of getting the younger boys through and identifying them early and there’s no point being half-hearted with it — this is the perfect time to get them some good minutes.’’
One of said youngsters will be Lucas Enders who, with regular keeper Fraser Greenwood suspended, will get his first start for the Suns’ seniors after making his debut as a sub last weekend.
The other player sent off in the Suns’ 1-1 draw with Langwarrin, Frankie Lagana, has a two-game suspension and will also miss.
‘‘Reducing the amount of red cards we get would be a good start,’’ Carley said.
‘‘But I back our boys, we play an attacking brand and sometimes we will get caught out, but the majority of time we can win if we all buy in to the philosophy.
‘‘That’s how we’ll approach this weekend and I wouldn’t have it any other way.’’
The Suns re-gain Billy Marshall for the game, but lose Jamie England with a hamstring injury, another example of a lack of consistency with team selection.
●Whittlesea’s under-20 side is similarly-ranked, coming into its clash with the Suns’ under-20s eighth on the western division table.
The impressive Suns are nine points off league-leading Springvale White Eagles and would need to be taking three points from the majority of their fixtures to mount a serious title challenge.
But the form has been quality in the past fortnight with consecutive wins, most recently a 4-3 triumph against Langwarrin.
The side will need to find goals from other sources with Alou Kuol and Fraser Gosstray playing with the senior side.