Mariners eager for Youth League start

Several Central Coast stars are set to end weeks of frustration and return to action when the Mariners host Perth on Friday night.

Several Central Coast stars are set to end weeks of frustration and return to action when the Mariners host Perth on Friday night.

The National Youth League kicks off on Friday night and the competition is starting at the perfect time for Mariners coach Lawrie McKinna.

McKinna has been without several players during the early rounds of the season with injury and suspension, ensuring a difficult start to the new campaign for the coast club.

But at Bluetongue Stadium, McKinna is expected to give several Hyundai A-League players a run in the Youth League against Perth.

Striker Nik Mrdja, who has battled injury for three seasons, is a chance to play in the curtain-raiser, while Paul O'Grady and Greg Owens are also hoping for game time.

Owens has not played since last season's grand final defeat against Newcastle after battling a serious hamstring injury.

The former Adelaide midfielder is desperate to play, even off the bench.

"I hope to get on but I also don't want to come back too early and then get injured again," he said.

"It's up to the coaching staff."

McKinna said the Youth League gives the club 'a lot of options' for returning players.

"You can use players returning from injury or give someone a run for 50 or 60 minutes and then use them off the bench in the A-League," McKinna said.

"We'll make a final decision on a few guys on Friday but it gives us a few options which is great."

The Youth League starts at 5.15pm with the Hyundai A-League clash kicking off at 8pm.