Panta backs GCU youth

Gold Coast United defender Steve Pantelidis has expressed his faith in his side's army of youngsters that is lining up to aid in replacing up to six first-choice players for Wednesday night's clash with North Queensland Fury.

Gold Coast United defender Steve Pantelidis has expressed his faith in his side's army of youngsters that is lining up to aid in replacing up to six first-choice players for Wednesday night's clash with North Queensland Fury.

Injuries and suspensions have all hit at once for third-placed United, who were already set to miss Joel Porter, Glen Moss and Michael Thwaite through injury - but they will be joined on the sidelines by suspended duo Dino Djulbic and James Brown and, to compound coach Miron Bleiberg's defensive headaches, perhaps even in-form Dutchman Bas van den Brink.

The defender-turned-midfielder netted a long-distance scorcher that may well be in contention for goal of the season, but late in the match injured his ribs after a heavy fall and though cleared of serious damage, he will be in a race against time to prove his fitness for Wednesday night.

"Bas might be alright for Wednesday - he saw the doctor today and he played at centre-back all last year so he should do a great job there if he was put there," Pantelidis said.

"It was a bad fall but he's a tough guy, he hasn't been injured too much during his two seasons here so I'm sure he'll pull up alright."

Regardless, Miron Bleiberg will be forced to reach into his youth team to fill his squad and names in the mix for a senior berth include young attacking duo Ben Halloran and Chris Harold and defender Zac Anderson - all of whom have tasted first team action before, and all of whom have impressed Pantelidis on the training ground.

"The youth team won the title last year so there's a lot of good young players coming through and they've shown it this year - kids like Ben Halloran, Chris Harold, Golgol Mebrahtu and the like, and any player that steps in will do a good job for us," he said.

"There's a few missing through suspension and a few people are seeing the doctors and physios today and tomorrow but I think we'll be alright.

"We have a lot of depth in the team and we have a lot of young boys who've come through and done really well."

With injuries and suspensions piling up for United, some have suggested it may not make much of a difference against a struggling North Queensland outfit, but Pantelidis dismissed any suggestions of an easy three points insists their opponents' notorious tenacity means his side will have a fight on their hands.

"The Fury are a good team and they're very passionate through their coach so we're definitely looking forward to it and the challenge they'll bring," he said.

"They might be down the bottom of the table but they need a few wins to make the finals so they're going to be desperate for the three points on Wednesday."