Jets coach Deans backs kids as exit rumours circulate

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Newcastle coach Craig Deans is happy to back his young midfielders, as speculation over the future of some of his more senior A-League players rumbles in the background.

The Jets snapped a club record seven-match losing streak with a 1-1 home draw with Perth in Coffs Harbour on Tuesday.

Deans spent part of his post-match media conference answering questions about the future of midfielder Steven Ugarkovic and defenders Matt Millar and Johnny Koutroumbis.

Ugarkovic has agreed to move to Western Sydney next season, where he will link up with former Jets coach Carl Robinson, who now occupies that post at the Wanderers.

There is even the suggestion 26-year-old Ugarkovic, who has played over 130 games for Newcastle over the last six seasons, might join the Wanderers before the end of this season, as part of a player swap.

Ugarkovic hasn't played in the Jets' last four games and has been troubled by a back issue.

In his absence, youngsters Luka Prso, Ramy Najjarine and Angus Thurgate performed well against Glory.

"The thing with Stevie is I respect him as a footballer, I want to do the right thing by him," Deans said.

"Obviously, he's signed for Western Sydney for next year and they probably want to get him over there now, but it's not as simple as that.

"We need to respect our football club and we'd love to have Stevie here, but sometimes there are things going on in the background that are out of your control as a coach.

"It's an opportunity for Stevie to not play, for Luka, Gus and Ramy to step up - three 20, 21-year-old kids and run the midfield in an A-League game.

"That's a big opportunity and I thought tonight Luka, Gus and Ramy showed that they've got the quality to play at this level.

"And if Stevie is not available I'll continue with those three."

Asked if Ugarkovic could come into selection calculations for the Jets' match away to Macarthur next Sunday, Deans said: "Possibly, but I'll talk to him face to face when we get back (to Newcastle) and see where he's at injury-wise.

"And obviously when people talk about you not behind your back but through the media, it affects your mental state as well.

"He's probably a little bit confused with where he is at in his career as well."

Deans was also asked about rumours that Koutroumbis and Millar may look to leave the club early, with the latter returning to Newcastle earlier this year after being loaned to English League One side Shrewsbury Town.

"Johnny has two years of a contract, Matty is out of contract at the end of the year," Deans said.

"I'd love for Matty to stay, but he had an opportunity to go to England in the off-season COVID period and he enjoyed his time there.

"The conversations with Matty are whether he wants to go and have another crack over there or whether he wants to stay in Australia.

"When he's made that decision, then we can talk."

Source AAP