U20 star Harry Ascroft gets A-League chance with Central Coast

Australia U20 defender Harry Ascroft has given up the chance to continue his European career to sign with A-League club the Central Coast Mariners on a three-year deal.

Ascroft arrives at the Mariners after two seasons with Dutch second tier club, VVV-Venlo, where he made seven first team appearances.

The 20-year-old can play central defender or full-back and will add to the options for head coach Tony Walmsley who has freshened up his squad with some youthful additions at the Gosford-based club.

Ascroft has spent the last two weeks trialling with the Mariners, who finished eighth in the 10-team league last season.

"It's hard to tell whether a player with overseas experience has what it takes to play in the A-League, especially at such a young age," Walmsley told the Mariners' official website. "His character, personality and work ethic immediately stood out then as we opened up the pitch size we got to see the scope of his ability and potential.

"Harry is a long-term prospect but can he play and have an impact this season? I think so. He has some outstanding attributes and he's a top signing for our club."

The Sydney-born Ascroft played his junior football with Kissing Point before being scouted by Dutch scouts while playing for Sydney University.

While not a regular in the Eerste Divisie, Ascroft was on the fringes of the first team and played in an exhibition match against former European champions, FC Porto, of Portugal.

"It feels really good to join the Mariners and I'm really excited about the future," Ascroft said.

"Playing in the Netherlands was a great experience, I learned a lot and it allowed me to mature a lot as a player and as a person.

"The players (at the Mariners) are fantastic, there are some quality players so I am really looking forward to the season ahead," he said.

The Mariners will host Perth Glory in their opening match of the 2015-16 campaign on Saturday Oct. 10.