Canberra product Tom Rogictrains with the Socceroos. Photo: Brendan Esposito
The most crucial element in a young player's development is regular game time, teenage Socceroos star Tom Rogic says.
And while the Canberra product may have got plenty of it in the 11 months since his professional debut with the Central Coast, the same can't be said about his time as part of the 20-man Socceroos squad in Hong Kong for the East Asian Cup qualifiers.
Brisbane duo Ivan Franjic and Matt Smith have played both games so far against Hong Kong and North Korea, while fellow rookie Aziz Behich has started both times.
And while Rogic played 35 minutes on Wednesday the likes of Eli Babalj, Aaron Mooy and Terry Antonis didn't play at all.
After Australia's 1-1 draw with North Korea, coach Holger Osieck - who admitted his main focus of the tournament was to develop the team's rookies - said: ''If I had played the young boys with their lack of experience, it would have been a negative experience for us.''
He has vowed to unleash them in the Socceroos' final two matches against Guam on Friday and Chinese Taipei on Sunday, with Australia in the precarious position of needing to better North Korea's goal difference should it beat Hong Kong.
Mathew Ryan made his debut playing the full 90 minutes against North Korea, with Osieck planning to give two matches each to him and Adelaide's Eugene Galekovic.
Ryan's Mariners teammate Rogic said the biggest factor in their rapid rise into the national team has been a belief in their ability, helped by Central Coast coach Graham Arnold giving them regular game time at club level.
''First and foremost, the biggest thing is that we've been given the opportunity to play regular first-team football,'' Rogic said.
''Not many young players in clubs around Australia are able to say that. So credit really must go to Arnie and the coaching staff at the Mariners because I found, especially last season being the youngster, the new kid on the block, I just had so much encouragement and belief from the coaching staff around me that it made it quite easy for me to do my job and play.''
The mild mannered, articulate 19-year-old says he's happy with the amount he's played in Hong Kong so far, especially with the gruelling schedule of four games in seven days.
And he said being part of the squad environment at international level has just as many merits.
''Just being in the team environment here with the Socceroos is really beneficial,'' he said.
''It's hard to describe but I'm finding it a little bit strange being in the same team with guys I used to watch on TV when I was a kid. It's a really good feeling.'' AAP