ANGUS Thurgate made his A-League debut in January, earned a senior contract in August and now the Newcastle Jets’ rising star will represent Australia for the first time at a major tournament.
Thurgate is in a 23-man Australian squad to contest the Asian Football Confederation under-19s Championships in Indonesia, starting on October 19.
The 18-year-old earned selection after strong performances at training camps on the Central Coast and Sunshine Coast.
He is one of only a few players in the squad with A-League experience.
The Port Macquarie junior’s versatility will also prove beneficial to coach Ante Milicic.
Boasting power and pace, Thurgate, who made his A-League debut off the bench for the Jets in a 1-0 win over Brisbane on January 12, has been used in a variety of roles.
He has played across the front three, been used as a makeshift fullback but is most comfortable at the base of midfield.
“In the camp, I was playing as a defensive midfielder,” Thurgate said before the squad was confirmed. “I’d play anywhere if I could get a game, I’m eager to play anywhere.
“It would be unreal to go to Indonesia with the team, it’s what I’ve wanted to do for a while so if I get the opportunity I’d love to do that.”
The Young Socceroos flew to Singapore on Sunday for a pre-tournament camp.
The AFC Championships doubles as a qualifier for next year’s FIFA under-20 World Cup to be held in Poland.
To secure a place in Poland, the Young Socceroos must reach the semi-finals of the Asian competition.
To advance to the knockout stage, which starts with quarter-finals, they will need to finish top of their group which contains Korea Republic, Vietnam, and Jordan.
Australia last qualified for the FIFA under-20 World Cup in 2013 when the tournament was held in Turkey.
“The upcoming AFC U19 Championship in Indonesia represents a great opportunity for this group of players to be exposed to international football,” Milicic said.
“During our camp in Singapore we will look to add to the work that we did while on the Sunshine Coast, and earlier in the year during our camp on the Central Coast. Our camp in Singapore will include matches against leading Malaysian club side Johor Darul Ta’zim on October 11 and Singapore’s under-21 national team four days later, which will help us to prepare for the tournament in Indonesia.”
The Young Socceroos open their Asian Championships campaign against the Korea Republic at the Patriot Chandrabhaga Stadium in Bekasi on October 19. They meet Vietnam at the same venue three days later, before tackling Jordan at the Pakansari Stadium in Cibinong on Thursday, October 25.
Thurgate, who has been upgraded from a scholarship to senior contract, played off the bench in the Jets’ two FFA Cup matches and is expected to add to his seven A-League appearances from last season.