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Friday, February 15, 2013
Jets' late A-League changes work wonders

By Liam FitzGibbon

Newcastle Jets coach Gary van Egmond believes a late-season shake-up is just what his A-League side needed, but he doesn't regret waiting so long to try it.

The Jets turned in one of their better performances of the season in a crucial 2-0 win over Melbourne Heart at Hunter Stadium on Friday night.

The win lifted them back into the top six and came after van Egmond had made five changes to his starting team.

Veteran Englishman Michael Bridges made his first start of the season and young strike partner Adam Taggart just his second, and both impressed as young guns Craig Goodwin and James Virgili were dropped to the bench.

Defenders Taylor Regan, Dominik Ritter and Josh Brilliante also made the most of recalls and van Egmond hinted he felt he found his best combination with the finals approaching.

"After that type of performance, obviously it's pretty plain to see that the team did extremely well," van Egmond said.

"Unless there are injuries (there won't be changes)."

While some fans and pundits had questioned why van Egmond had not given the likes of Bridges an opportunity earlier, the coach said circumstances had made for a difficult season.

"I don't think regret's the right word," van Egmond said.

"... From my point of view, we really looked to invest in some other players that have come to the club and felt that they could do a certain job," van Egmond said.

"And through injury and suspension and through a number of things, it hasn't gone to plan.

"In some ways, some people may think it's quire harsh that a Craig Goodwin or a James Virgili doesn't start because they've done extremely well as young boys coming through.

"But what these older players have done is, to a degree, they have a lot more confidence in this moment and you can see other players might not have that right now."

Van Egmond backed Bridges to benefit from a 65-minute hitout and felt he could help bring even more out from fellow English striker Emile Heskey.

"Emile can position himself and look to position his runs a little bit better from players who have a bit more football nous about them," the coach said.

"Not to say our other players haven't done well. It's just a little bit more 'football' from those individuals."

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