Alen Stajcic believes Daniel de Silva is one of the A-League’s top players at his best but the Central Coast coach isn’t ready to say he’s found his feet just yet.
The 23-year-old was regarded as one of Australia’s best young talents after making his A-League debut at just 15, but this season shapes as an important one to deliver on that potential.
Stajcic won’t define de Silva’s season in such strict terms, but says it’s up to him to live up to the hype that has surrounded the Australian under 23s midfielder since he was a teen.
“I wouldn’t single him out as this year being a particularly important one for him,” Stajcic told AAP.
“I just think everyone has talked about how good he is and it’s up to him at some point to deliver on that consistently.
“We’ve seen glimpses of that in his game this year, that he’s got a little bit more consistency in his game and he’s showing his true quality.
“The other night was one of the best games I’ve seen him play – certainly for the Mariners, so I’d be happy if he could keep that up every week because at his peak he’s one of the best players in the A-League.”
After scoring a goal against Macarthur in the Mariners’ 2-0 win on January 3 de Silva backed it up with a strong performance against Western Sydney in Gosford on Tuesday night.
And leading into Friday’s match against his former club Sydney FC – where he played the winning 2018/19 season on loan – he will again be called on to deliver.
The Mariners are coming off their first loss of the season to the Wanderers just three days ago as they look to bounce back against the league champions at Kogarah.
In a disrupted season the Sky Blues have played just two games for a win and draw – most recently against Wanderers (1-all draw) on Saturday night.
“(Sydney) have been up and down but they’re without doubt the most prominent team in the country over the same period we’ve been down, over the last four or five years,” Stajcic said.
“The first couple of games they’ve had some good moments where they control and dominate the game and show their real class, and then there’s times I thought Wanderers got on top of them in the last 20 minutes the other day.
“They’re without doubt the team to beat and the yardstick for other clubs to measure.”