Football 3 years ago

Big injury toll no excuse for Jets: Miller

  • Big injury toll no excuse for Jets: Miller

Newcastle coach Scott Miller concedes he will have to turn to youth to bolster his injury-hit squad but says inexperience is no excuse as the A-League team search for their killer instinct.

The Jets conceded an injury-time goal to draw 1-1 with a Central Coast Mariners side who had 10 men for more than hour on Saturday at Hunter Stadium.

Milos Trifunovic put the Jets ahead in the 83rd minute but Matt Sim found the equaliser for Central Coast, who lost centre-back Jake McGing to a straight red card in the 24th minute.

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Newcastle's Brazilian playmaker Leonardo was stretchered from the field with an ankle injury as a result of the McGing challenge.

Leonardo played no further part but was later able to walk on the ankle and Jets officials were hopeful it was not a serious injury.

Leonardo joins a casualty list featuring centre-back Daniel Mullen, Ben Kantarovski and Labinot Haliti.

While Kantarovski could return from a calf problem in Adelaide next Sunday, Mullen is out for at least another month after minor knee surgery and Haliti is gone for the season after a knee reconstruction.

The back-ups for the FFA-controlled Jets are predominantly young players, shown by the bench of Brandon Lundy, Nick Cowburn, Radovan Pavicevic and Andrew Pawiak on Saturday.

Miller said Haliti's replacement would likely be another inexperienced player.

"That's proving to be difficult, due to financial restrictions," Miller said of finding an injury replacement.

"It's not as easy as bigger budget clubs (which) can replace as you like.

"It comes down to money in the bank, it's not as simple as us going out and getting a new player.

"Once again, we'll have to overachieve and pull together and draw upon our belief as a club, and the support from the fans, and bring another young player into the club and develop him."

Miller, though, said "youth is never an excuse" for an underperforming team.

"Poor managers use youth and lack of depth as an excuse but we won't do that here," he said.

"It's our reality, and what a great opportunity to develop a player, that's our mentality."

The draw followed a 2-1 loss to Western Sydney Wanderers in which the Jets led with 11 minutes remaining.

Although frustrated with another missed opportunity, Miller said securing 10 points from a possible 18 to start the season was a great result for the rebuilding club and far exceeded expectations.

He was determined, though, to develop a new mentality within the club, which is still searching for an owner in the wake of former billionaire Nathan Tinkler's troubled reign.

"There are two profiles in football aren't there, there are winners and losers," he said on Saturday night.

"And there are winners that when they actually smell blood, they go for it. They maintain possession, they're ruthless.

"Now, I'm pretty sure the club in its state of mind for the last couple of years has been, well, if we don't win, we'll get another try.

"Today was an opportunity to go to 12 and be top for an hour. That's why I'll go home very disappointed. That's opportunities arising two weeks in a row now, and we haven't taken them."

The Jets are on 10 points and dropped from third to fifth with the draw.

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