NEWCASTLE Jets women's coach Wayne O'Sullivan has put his faith in youth for the second season of the W-League.
The average age of the Jets squad is 20, following the retirements of Matildas veterans Cheryl Salisbury and Joey Peters and the departure of imports Sanna Frostevall and Rebecca Smith and promising junior Emily van Egmond to Canberra United.
O'Sullivan, a former Wellington Phoenix assistant coach, who has taken on former Central Coast Mariners midfielder Andre Gumprecht as his right-hand man, said he expected the exuberance of youth to cover the loss of experienced heads.
"We're looking at everybody to step up, whether you're 15 or whether you're 28," O'Sullivan said yesterday.
"We have what people may see as an inexperienced team but we think there's an awful lot of value in an equal-level playing field for everybody involved where reputation means nothing.
"It's a daily environment and you'll have to provide on a daily basis and get judged on that.
"Yes, with those players stepping out it's a loss to any team, because they're fabulous football players, but we're asking everybody to step up."
Last night, teenagers Maddie Searle and Caitlin Jarvie became the 17th and 18th players added to the squad.
Two more players will complete the roster but O'Sullivan has until October 9 to settle those spots.
Matildas camp members Amber Neilson, Stacey Day and Alison Logue have signed again with the Jets and former Canberra United utility Hayley Crawford has returned home.
Other players to sign again are Gema Simon, Leia Smith, Hannah Brewer, Kirstyn Pearce, Libby Sharpe and Nicole Jones.
O'Sullivan has introduced players from Sydney in Lauren Mahoney, Carlie Ikonomou, Pelay Ingles and Emma Stewart and former Mariners goalkeeper Emma-Kate Dewhurst.
He said his youth policy was aimed at creating a long-term winning mentality at the Jets.
"We've tried to really influence the culture of the team this year and made it about the team and the club and the girls who have trained through the 61/2 weeks have really built that," O'Sullivan said.
"So anyone who arrives now needs to fit into that. It won't be about a marquee player.
"The answer is we hope to have 20 marquee players in the end. It will be an environment of equal rights."
The Jets' W-League season will kick off on October 5 against Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium.