Double boost for GCU

Gold Coast United have received a double boost ahead of Wednesday's match against Newcastle, with Kristian Rees and Paul Beekmans both set for returns.

Gold Coast United have received a double boost ahead of Wednesday's match against Newcastle, with Kristian Rees and Paul Beekmans both set for returns.

Just days after fracturing a bone in his hand in a training-ground collision with teammate Golgol Mebrahtu, veteran defender Rees will make a miraculous comeback to the starting XI at Ausgrid Stadium.

The 31-year-old has trained well in Newcastle, where the team has remained since their 0-0 draw with Central Coast on New Year's Eve, and will play with his injured hand strapped up.

Dutch midfield anchor Beekmans, who missed the Mariners game due to a one-match suspension, is also available for selection and is likely to start.

The duo's presence will only further strengthen a Gold Coast United rearguard that has served as the backbone of the club's recent resurgence.

United has not conceded a single goal over the past four games, a club record - and an even more impressive feat considering that run included fixtures against reigning champions Brisbane Roar and current ladder leaders Central Coast.

Their renewed focus on defence is also paying dividends at the other end of the pitch for the side's young and pacy strikeforce.

The likes of Ben Halloran, James Brown and Maceo Rigters are starting to build on their combinations and are all right at home playing on the counter attack.

"It's great to be in a team where you get to play your natural role, rather than being stifled into playing a game that you don't really want to play," Halloran said.

"It's a big plus for me. As soon as the boys in midfield get the ball I start running at defenders.

"We've managed to get these clean sheets, but we tend to play that sort of game where we try to get opposition teams on the break a lot.

"Browny is a really good playmaker and he's quick as well, while Mace is able to hold the ball up for us. We all offer different dimensions to the game, and that definitely helps with our combination play."

It's been a dream season for 19-year-old Halloran, who took an important step forward last month with his debut A-League goal against Adelaide.

The youngster, who graduated from United's two-time National Youth League champion team in the off-season, has previously worked himself into goalscoring opportunities but often lacked the confidence to pull the trigger.

Now that he's cemented his position in coach Miron Bleiberg's preferred starting line-up, confidence is now no longer an issue and all his hard work is starting to pay off.

"It was hard to tell in pre-season. You don't know where you stand," Halloran said.

"But I was fortunate to get a start in that first game. It could have gone to anyone - we've got a lot of young players and they're all capable of playing 90 minutes for the first team.

"When you're a striker, scoring goals is what you get paid to do. I got a lot of confidence when I put that first one away."