Melbourne City youngster Nathaniel Atkinson was handed his debut in the 1-0 win against Central Coast Mariners on Sunday evening and took it in his stride.

The 18-year-old has come from City’s youth academy and he showed the benefits of being involved in that system, as he demonstrated a great skill set and willingness to take players on.

He replaced the suspended Manny Muscat at full-back for the full 90 minutes and provided plenty for City fans to smile about.

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Head coach Warren Joyce praised Atkinson for the hard work he has put in to earn his spot in the side.

“I thought he took his opportunity well, he’s one that caught my eye as soon as he came to the club,” said Joyce.

“He’s actually been away for a large part with the young Australian side so he’s missed a lot of training.

“Unfortunately he didn’t play the games as well so he came back in not a great condition so we’ve had to build him up again.

“In pre-season he worked his socks off, showed a good attitude and shown he can handle the football as well.”

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The wave of talent coming through at City was evident by Atkinson but names on the bench in Daniel Arzani and late substitute Braedyn Crowley are those to have been promoted from the academy.

The omission of Neil Kilkenny coupled with the departure of Tim Cahill meant a more youthful bench for Joyce to ponder.

“They’ve got to earn their right to play, we want the kids to come through,” said Joyce.

“We want to see all the work that the academy does with the back-room staff and the sports science staff.

“The kids have got to grasp the opportunity, if they get one they need to make sure they’re ready for it in every way, mentally, physically, tactically they can handle it all.

“There’s a pretty good guide usually if the training’s competitive and you’re doing it on a day in, day out basis, you’re more confident that you’ll see it happening on a Saturday and that’s been the same with Nathaniel.”

There’s no doubt Joyce will have plenty of selection headaches ahead of next weekend’s clash with Sydney FC.

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Liam Watson is covering Melbourne Victory this season while completing Media and Communications at La Trobe University.