Could we? Blackwood played 14 games in 2015-16 so he was definitely unavailable after that. Calver’s eligibility would’ve ended in 2014-15 and I’m not sure we actually had an NPL team at that point anyway. Lokolingoy was getting to an age where if he was going to fulfill his supposed potential, he needed to play at a higher level. If his goal tally in the NPL is as high as Wiki suggests, I don’t know another season or two of NPL would’ve done him any favours. I’m not sure what else we could’ve done better for those guys.
The fact of the matter is we’re not going to convert half of our youth products every year into first-team A-League players, especially at a big club in the league like ours. You just don’t see that very often anywhere in the world. If we even brought through one or two a year with a high level of consistency, I would consider that a success. Maybe even they don’t quite make the grade for us and sign for a lower club, such is the case with Blackwood and Lokolingoy. After that, its up to them if they then improve enough to actually make the grade with us. These things happen all the time.
The other issue is that such is the relative dearth of quality young Australian players anywhere at the moment, that any kid even remotely likely to step up and make it overseas is going to be snapped up very quickly. See John Iredale, who unfortunately has had dreadful luck with injuries since going over there. He looked really good even in his one or two cameo appearances for us before he left. Jacob Italiano is the same over in Perth. He’s far from dominating the league yet, but obviously has potential at his age, so Monchengladbach have snapped him up. Alex Gersbach got a bit further than either Iredale or Italiano in this league, but he hasn’t got as far as we hoped. Only by going overseas and experiencing the pure training intensity and professionalism will we know how far those kind of kids can go. They struggle to get that here.