Newcastle Jets in race against clock
Gary van Egmond faces threats from all sides as he tries to keep together the Newcastle Jets side he's taken to third on the A-League table for the rest of the season.
He lost defender Scott Neville with a knee injury in Sunday's impressive 2-1 win away to Melbourne Victory, and is battling the clock to keep match-winner Nathan Burns.
Burns is on loan from Korean side Incheon, with no agreement to keep him past mid-January.
With Adam Taggart's six goals putting him in the sights of bigger clubs and Emile Heskey still struggling for fitness, the Jets could find themselves well short of firepower.
That threat makes it no surprise van Egmond has been in touch with Incheon to extend Burns' time at Newcastle.
"He's an important cog... I'd love to see we could come to some agreement," van Egmond said.
"As much as we'd like to keep him and I know he'd love to stay but we have to see how that pans out."
With Taggart scoring six of the Jets eight goals until Sunday's match, Burns' emergence on Sunday is all the more important.
Van Egmond started Taggart over Heskey to emulate Victory's attacking mobility, but said the English veteran would start "plenty" of games this season.
The AAMI Park win continued the Jets' fine season: undefeated except the two trips to Allianz Stadium that yielded 2-0 losses to Sydney FC.
The two strikes from Burns left Melbourne Victory with nothing to show for their efforts despite dominating for stretches of the game.
Muscat's touchline manner was increasingly of a man who had accepted his side were not going to win, blaming the slower speed of the game for throwing out their rhythm.
"In patches we looked good, we looked threatening," he said.
"The game was really slow... but that's something we're going to have to get used to if we want to be taken seriously."
Muscat shielded marquee defender Pablo Contreras from criticism after he failed to clear the cross that led to the Jets winner.
"Pablo is part of ten other blokes who are defending," Muscat said.
"He miskicks a ball, other players had opportunities to defend it well also... (but) it is a ball we should have defended, yes."