Western Sydney coach Carl Robinson has praised the maturity of teenage defender Mark Natta after an aggressive A-League debut.
The 18-year-old stood his ground against the physicality of Central Coast veteran Matt Simon, helping the Wanderers to a 1-0 win in Gosford on Tuesday night.
Robinson said Natta was given minimal notice to prepare for his debut, in which he replaced injured skipper Dylan McGowan.
"I thought he was excellent," Robinson said of the academy graduate.
"Obviously it was a big loss, we lost our captain so someone needed to step up.
Robinson said he had no hesitation putting Natta into the side, as he had done with fellow youngster Thomas Aquilina this year.
"And I thought he rose to the occasion," he said.
"You're not going to get many harder players as Matt Simon in this league.
"He's a different type of player and I thought he handled himself very well. It was probably a very mature performance by someone so young."
Natta is the latest in a string of youngsters developing under Robinson, who says he is delighted to see his faith in the young players pay off.
"Sometimes I get sick of people saying young players don't get given chances and things like that," he said.
"Young players, when they are ready and good enough and have a coach who believes in them, will get given their chance.
"The young players then have to take those chances. It's not just about throwing them in and expecting them to be able to swim. You have to teach them."
Meanwhile, Robinson said McGowan would miss at least the next two weeks with a foot injury he suffered in the 1-all draw with Sydney FC on Saturday.
The skipper was sent for scans after leaving the match in a moon boot, which confirmed a small tear.
Robinson said it would be at least a fortnight on the sidelines for McGowan but said it could be up to six weeks, which will be confirmed later this week.