Perth Glory youngster Riley Woodcock says senior defenders Michael Thwaite and William Gallas have played important roles in his development this season.
Local products Woodcock (18), Matt Davies (18) and Jack Clisby (21) have all been forced to step up into roles vacated by senior defenders and have been shining lights during a turbulent campaign.
Experienced defender Steve Pantelidis was allowed to join Selangor FC last month, while first-choice full-backs Josh Risdon (knee) and Scott Jamieson (achilles) have made just nine starts between them due to injury.
Gallas was also sidelined for two months with a calf injury, but he and fringe Socceroos defender Thwaite were constant figures in the ears of their young teammates.
“They’re always keeping you on your toes and making sure you’re in the right position,” Woodcock said.
“It’s a lot easier to be able implement your job when you’ve got someone like that next to you and talking to you the whole time.
“It’s been really easy for me to come in and feel comfortable.”
Woodcock said Glory had been boosted by the arrival of interim coach Kenny Lowe following the upheaval that resulted in former boss Alistair Edwards being sacked last month.
Woodcock is one of many young local products in the Glory squad who had previously worked under former WA National Training Centre boss Lowe.
“With a new coach coming in, everyone’s always going to lift,” Woodcock said.
“It took a couple of weeks to get used to his system but as you see now we’re playing good football and getting some results.
“I think it’s been a good change. I had Kenny (as a coach) growing up as a junior … and he’s always going to get the best out of you.”
Woodcock said confidence was high in the Glory camp ahead of the clash with Western Sydney Wanderers at Pirtek Stadium on Sunday.
Wanderers have garnered just four points from their past five games and have endured a busy fixture schedule over the past fortnight.
Glory, on the other hand, have started to turn their season around for the better with eight points in their past five games, including a solid defensive run of four clean sheets in that period.