Tim Cahill exit creates 'opportunity' for Melbourne City youth - Stefan Mauk
Shock at Tim Cahill's departure from Melbourne City has been replaced by hope that the A-League club can march on without the Socceroos legend.
Cahill walked out of the club in the build-up to Sunday's defeat of Central Coast Mariners, with City consigned to ripping up the 38-year-old's contract.
While Cahill had telegraphed the move after helping Australia reach next year's World Cup, City teammate Stefan Mauk said he was staggered to hear the news.
"It was a big shock," he said. "Everybody was surprised by the decision. It's something that we spoke about on the day when he came in. Since then we've tried to forget about it and just focus on the players available for us right now."
Cahill started just one game this season, playing 94 minutes across six goalless appearances.
His departure frees up a place in City's matchday squads that Mauk believes can go to a youngster -- and help the third-placed club kick on.
"[Cahill] was very important. A great leader for the group on and off the field," he said.
"In saying that, football is a game when people go all the time.
"Now we're more focused on the players we do have and it's an opportunity for some young players to step up [and] some of the older guys to take a little bit more responsibility.
"I think it should be a good thing."
Teenager Nathaniel Atkinson, who enjoyed a fine debut for City in the 1-0 win over Central Coast, was the first to take that chance.
A 9-2 defeat of Melbourne Victory in the national youth league earlier this month suggests there are others eager for an opportunity.
Youth international John Roberts, Ruon Tongyik and Daniel Arzani are others with huge potential.
"I remember when I was a young player, it's always frustrating when you had older players in front of you," 22-year-old Mauk said.
"Now it leaves the bench open for Arzani or Atkinson or whoever it may be.
"We've got some tremendous young players as you saw on the weekend with Nath Atkinson coming on."