Newcastle defender Jason Hoffman has supported luckless striker Milos Trifunovic, saying the Serbian's lack of impact in front of goal recently is partly due to the quality of service he's been receiving.
Trifunovic has a respectable four goals this season, however he's failed to find the back of the net in his past five matches, and has only nine shots on target in 11 A-League appearances overall.
He's also been caught offside too many times.
Last month coach Scott Miller went, within weeks, from describing the Red Star Belgrade product as potentially the "buy of the season" to saying he needed "a reality check with his intensity".
But Hoffman stood behind Trifunovic, pointing out it always takes time for imports to settle in and get their timing right with new teammates.
"As a team we haven't protected him as much," the defender said.
"A lot of it falls on the No.9, but in saying that it's all about the service too.
"Like with myself as a full-back, what quality of delivery are we getting in to him?
"Of course he's had some chances that haven't gone his way, but I'm sure they will and it's about working on it on the training paddock so it becomes second nature as a striker."
Hoffman said the entire team needed to up their game as they prepare to host Melbourne Victory on Sunday in a bid to snap their eight-match winless streak.
"The more and more we push on - which we have done this week - gives us time to really work on things," he said.
"Milos has worked really hard this week so far in front of goal, and his confidence seems to be getting there on the training park.
"But can he convert that on Sunday in front of a good home crowd? I hope so."