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Feb 22, 2012

Palmer set to shore up A-League talent

Gold Coast owner Clive Palmer could open his considerable chequebook after several exciting youngsters made statements against the high-flying Central Coast at Skilled Park on Wednesday night.

Teenagers Golgol Mebrahtu, Ben Halloran and Mitch Cooper, the 17-year-old whose captaincy appointment last week contributed to coach Miron Bleiberg's demise, played their hearts out in the 3-3 draw, lifting spirits following a dramatic few days off the field.

With only Josh Brillante, Halloran, Mebrahtu and Jake Barker-Daish signed beyond 2011-12, the club has another dozen young players uncontracted.

Negotiations with a number of players are tipped to start next week.

"I thought their kids were fantastic and I can't give them a big enough rap," said Mariners coach Graham Arnold.

Did he see any "kids" coming off contract who caught his eye?

"They're all good kids but I think Clive will fix them up," he said.

"I saw Clive in the tunnel after the game and he was extremely happy and proud and so he should be."

Halloran's first-half goal was a gem, a contender for A-League goal of the season.

Palmer, who became involved in a stoush with Football Federation Australia (FFA) during the week, made a special trip to the team's dressing room at halftime on Wednesday night to thank his players.

Interim coach Mike Mulvey, who took the club's youth team to the past two national championships, deflected all credit to his players.

"I've given them some belief and given them their head but they're the ones who went out and performed," he said.

Mulvey said the fact three of his young players came off the field saying they were "sorry" indicated their desire to improve.

"We've some very exciting young players and, if you give them their heads, their ability to play will come to the fore," he said.

"You look at Golly (Golgol Mebrahtu), he ran himself into the ground, you look at Ben Halloran, the goal he scored ... these are exciting players.

"If you give a group of players a sense of purpose and you get them to buy into the vision, anything is possible, especially with young players who are fearless."

Mulvey dismissed suggestions he had to be disappointed about making his A-League coaching debut in front of 1141 fans - the smallest turnout in the club's brief history.

"Absolutely 100 per cent not," he said.

"I was elated with them because they bought into what we were doing.

"The people who were here were excited - you heard them cheering.

"That's been a long time coming and I think there'll be more here on Saturday night (against the Victory)."

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