The youngsters who will replace defenders Matt Smith and Ivan Franjic are good enough to walk into any other A-League side, according to veteran Shane Stefanutto.
The youngsters who will replace newly-minted Socceroos defenders Matt Smith and Ivan Franjic are good enough to walk into any other Hyundai A-League side, according to veteran Shane Stefanutto.
International duty has decimated the under-fire A-League champions' rearguard ahead of Saturday night's crunch match with Newcastle.
But the likes of two-time club National Youth League player of the year James Donachie and Japanese youngster Yuji Takahashi are more than capable of compensating for the loss of captain Smith and the versatile Franjic, said Stefanutto.
"We've got guys, young players in this squad that would be able to go into other teams in the league no problem at all," the left-back said.
"There's players there, and now they get an opportunity. They have to make the most of it."
Coach Rado Vidosic maintains he has not made up his mind as to who will be handed a starting berth and first crack at keeping Emile Heskey on a leash at Suncorp Stadium.
But it appears 19-year-old stopper Donachie, who made his first and only senior appearance for the Roar in Gold Coast United's last ever game, will get the nod and partner Matt Jurman in the centre of defence.
Donachie is very highly rated at the club - and Vidosic suggested it would be the same outside of Brisbane were it not for his injury worries across the pre-season.
"He started with the Young Socceroos but unfortunately got injured and he missed the final tournament (the AFC U22 Championship) they participated in," the coach said.
"It's the same with Yuji and Do (Dong-Hyun). They've just been new players in the A-League and it's taken them a little bit of time to adjust to our training sessions.
"Obviously you can see the weather here in Queensland... they need to adjust to that. But I'm sure they're going to be a big part of our future."
Vidosic and Stefanutto also moved to quell talk surrounding a rumoured rift in the dressing room following Erik Paartalu's public criticism of the coach this week.
Following the 2-1 loss to Central Coast, Vidosic was fuming at 'schoolboy errors' and 'kindergarten defending', which earned a chiding from Paartalu.
"I didn't speak to Erik personally. I addressed the whole team. It's between us, it stays in the dressing room," Vidosic said.
"Sometimes these things are blown out of proportion and sometimes media can make a big thing out of nothing.
"That was basically the comment that we made and hopefully we can put that aside and concentrate on this game now.
"Of course, we are a little bit upset we haven't got enough wins on the board. That is probably the main disappointment that we've got.
"But when you look at our performances and efforts, we are proud of that.
"We have got the most passes in the league and the most accurate passes. We're not too far away from putting a good win on the board and we know our performances are good enough."
Stefanutto added: "The dressing room's really good - it's bubbly, it's chatty. There's no disharmony in there.
"It's frustrating, the position we're in. Nobody wants to be at the bottom of the table.
"We just need to get on a run now and it starts this weekend. We're capable of it. What did we have, 36 games undefeated?
"We're only eight games into the season. There's still plenty of time to go. We have to believe that we can do it, that's the key."