Football 3 years ago

Miller torn over A-League keeper dilemma

  • Miller torn over A-League keeper dilemma

Newcastle A-League coach Scott Miller admits he faces an agonising decision over which of his goalkeepers will start on Friday night against Melbourne City.

Ben Kennedy is the incumbent, but could be replaced by returning gloveman Mark Birighitti, who has recovered from the gruesome facial injuries he suffered in his nasty clash with Sydney FC striker Shane Smeltz two weeks ago and is ready to play.

"I thought Ben Kennedy was superb last week," said Miller.

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"It's a tough one. It's not a toss of a coin - it's based on who I feel is up to it mentally and who deserves that spot.

"At this point, they both do so I've got to have a good think about that."

The Jets are also sweating on the fitness of playmaker Leonardo, who has been battling a knee injury this week and has struggled to train.

The Brazilian has been included in Newcastle's squad for the clash with City, but Miller has flagged a potential change to the team's set-up if Leonardo is unable to play.

"Leonardo's had a week with the physiotherapist, just giving him extra time," he said.

"We actually looked at his GPS stats after the game (against Melbourne Victory) and it's the most high intensity he's covered in the last three games.

"I think that output's showed in his body and he's just had that inflammation of his knee all week."

However, Miller confirmed Lee Ki-je (hamstring) is fit and will make his first appearance for the season at AAMI Park.

Meanwhile, Miller said it had been really challenging trying to find a replacement for the injured Labinot Haliti, who underwent surgery on his knee on Thursday morning and would miss the rest of the A-League season.

The Jets made an offer to one player, believed to be former Melbourne Victory forward Andrew Nabbout, but Miller said it was rejected due to financial reasons.

"He's gone to Malaysia instead," Miller said.

"It's an ongoing process; I've got a squad here I need to utilise and I need to trust," Miller said.

"It's an opportunity for a current squad member, rather than reacting and getting someone in."

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