Henderson not a 'fall guy'

Ian Ferguson has backed axed Fury goalkeeper Paul Henderson to fight his way back into the side, saying the stopper is not being made the fall guy for last week's thrashing by Central Coast.

Ian Ferguson has backed axed Fury goalkeeper Paul Henderson to fight his way back into the side, saying the stopper is not being made the fall guy for last week's thrashing by Central Coast.

The North Queensland coach has responded emphatically to the 5-1 loss at Dairy Farmers Stadium, dropping Henderson and left-back Chris Tadrosse for Justin Pasfield and Jack Hingert respectively ahead of Saturday night's clash with Adelaide.

But Ferguson believes Henderson, who's endured a curious mix of highs and lows during his debut season in the Hyundai A-League, will respond positively and challenge Pasfield all the way.

"He's not happy, (but) it's a decision I made for certain reasons and that's between me and the player," Ferguson said.

"It's not a case of being a fall guy. We've lost five goals, he's not to blame for them all, but I do feel that the game's first goal, it was crucial."

"They had one shot and they went and scored, but as I said, Paul's big enough and ugly enough to try and fight for his place back again."

With Ferguson saying he could make four changes to the squad that went down to the Mariners, central defender Karl Dodd may also find himself on the outer, despite having played just one match since recovering from a knee injury.

Indeed, so concerned is Ferguson with the club's defensive fragility, he's drafted in former Portsmouth youth player Matt Smith, currently plying his trade with the Brisbane Strikers as a six-week injury replacement for knee victim Shane Stefanutto.

Ferguson is unsure whether Smith will play on Saturday night after just three days in Townsville, but regardless of who plays in his back four, he's expecting a more committed defensive display from everyone.

"I felt the Mariners picked us off pretty easily from the back and through the midfield," Ferguson said.

"So we're going to work really hard. When we lose the ball we've got to try and get in defensive shape and we've got to try and hit he team with a bit more purpose ... 'cause we're not showing the support that we should be showing as we did early on."

"So we've got to get back to basics and first and foremost, we've got to stop conceding goals."

In a big week for new faces at the club, Ferguson has also received a clearance to bring in former Manchester City midfielder Terry Cooke on a six-week contract, the 33-year-old to take James Robinson's position in the centre of the park after he too fell victim to the Fury knee curse this season.

Despite Cooke not having played since his last appearance for the Colorado Rapids in July, he appears almost certain to start on Saturday night.