Gold Coast can cover Smeltz

Gold Coast United striker Joel Porter believes Shane Smeltz's transfer to China will open the door for United's young talent to step into the spotlight and cement a starting place in Miron Bleiberg's attack-minded side for the upcoming season.

Gold Coast United striker Joel Porter believes Shane Smeltz's transfer to China will open the door for United's young talent to step into the spotlight and cement a starting place in Miron Bleiberg's attack-minded side for the upcoming season.

The United striker, who is now set to play a more central attacking role, is confident Gold Coast can cover for the loss of Smeltz, saying the movement of players is just part of the business of football.

"Players move on and it's just part and parcel of the game. Every club, even the biggest clubs, lose important players from time to time. We just have to move on and we can do that because we know we have some talented youngsters here who can come in and do a great job for us," Porter said.

"Shane obviously grabbed a lot of the limelight last season and rightly so after scoring 19 goals. His departure means there will now be opportunities for some of the young boys we have here to show what they can do on the bigger stage."

"We're a team that creates a lot of chances and we will continue to do that. The difference this season is that we will have someone else getting on the end of those chances instead of Shane."

"It would be fantastic if we can get another high profile player to come here, but if not we're still very confident we can do better than we did last year. We want to make it into the Asian Champions League and we want to make it into the Grand Final. Our aims and goals haven't changed one bit."

"We're better equipped this season because we have the benefit of a year together and as a team we know what it's all about now."

During his final season in England with Hartlepool, Porter bagged 23 goals playing in a two-man front line. The wily striker is confident of building on last season's tally of five goals if, as expected, he is asked to lead the Gold Coast attack.

"I'll be happy if I'm playing at the point of the attack. There is a bit more pressure and weight on my shoulders, but I'm very used to that. I've played in England where you're expected to score every week," he said.

"Last year I was out on the left a lot and didn't play up front as much as I would have liked, so if I'm more central it will suit me. I've played most of my career in that position so it's certainly something I'm looking forward to.

"My game is about scoring goals and setting up goals so I want to continue to do that this season. Hopefully I can help the younger lads with my experience and if one or two can come in and create opportunities then I'm confident we can continue to score goals and have another good season."

Lining up to fill the void left by Kiwi striker Smeltz are the likes of Tahj Minniecon, Andrew Barisic, Golgol Mebrahtu and youth team hot prospects, Ben Halloran and Chris Harold.

But the weight of most expectation is destined to fall on the shoulders of the mercurial Minniecon. Blessed with pace, power and a sharp eye for goal, United's under 23 marquee player is primed for a big season and Porter threw down the challenge to the youngster.

"Tahj is an excellent player and after a few niggling injuries he's coming back into fitness now. There's been a lot of talk about him in the last couple of years and it's time for him to really make his mark. It's a great opportunity for him and it's there to be taken. This will be a big year for Tahj and he knows it," Porter said.

"But he's not the only youngster here who can step up and make an impact. There's Andrew Barisic who did very well for us in a couple of games last season, Golgol Mebrahtu is very quick and looks to be a good prospect, and then there's more than a couple in the youth team who have been training very, very well with us so far."