NEWCASTLE Jets teenager Mitchell Oxborrow has been dropped after his unhappy A-League debut against Perth last weekend, but coach Gary van Egmond believes the experience may prove a defining moment in his career.
Oxborrow was a surprise inclusion in van Egmond’s starting line-up against the Glory, but the 17-year-old midfielder was replaced at half-time after an error gifted the home side their first goal.
Yesterday the rookie suffered further disappointment when he was omitted from the squad to face Sydney, which will deny him an opportunity to make amends tomorrow night at Hunter Stadium.
Van Egmond said the former Australian under-17 representative had learnt a harsh lesson that could ultimately prove beneficial in his development.
‘‘I thought he found it a little bit too quick for him,’’ van Egmond said yesterday.
‘‘In saying that, it may be the difference between making Mitchell Oxborrow a footballer or Mitchell Oxborrow not a footballer, to experience that 45 minutes, for him to get an understanding of what it’s like at that level.
‘‘It was unfortunate what happened to him there right at the end on half-time, but there were a lot of good things he did as well.’’
He said all the indications were that Oxborrow would bounce back strongly.
‘‘His attitude at training has been spot-on,’’ he said.
‘‘He’s definitely one for the future. He’s just got to keep his head down, working hard.
‘‘He’s got plenty of talent and he’ll get his chance again.’’
Defender Scott Neville said earlier this week that Oxborrow would be back.
‘‘Ability-wise he is one of the best 17-year-olds I have seen,’’ Neville said. ‘‘When you make a mistake it is natural for your head to go down. I still do it, other players still do it. As long as he recovers well he will have a big future in the game. I have no doubts he will.’’
Another new signing who is yet to put his best foot forward for Newcastle, attacking midfielder James Brown, will be rested this week after ongoing complications with an ankle injury that required surgery in the pre-season.
‘‘His ankle is still giving him some grief, and I think we’re all the first to say it’s not the same James Brown as what it was last year,’’ van Egmond said.
‘‘His ankle has been a nagging issue. He got a cortisone [injection] ... he’ll have the weekend off. He’s already feeling so much better.
‘‘He’s got that much more range already in his ankle, so we’re hoping that’s the trigger to be able to allow James to start playing and to feel free.’’
Van Egmond said skipper Jobe Wheelhouse (knee) had resumed training and would be available in the near future.
Goalkeeper Ben Kennedy (knee) will return in the youth team on Sunday, while his positional rival Mark Birighitti (broken cheekbone) might be back as early as next week.
‘‘We’re starting to get some troops back ... we are starting to get a little bit more confidence from players returning, and if we can secure a win on the weekend, it definitely will give the whole squad a lift,’’ the coach said.
Van Egmond predicted there would be ‘‘some changes’’ after the 3-0 loss in Perth, which was Newcastle’s third successive defeat.
He indicated Newcastle would endeavour to provide more support up front for strike weapon Emile Heskey.
‘‘We really need to get at Sydney,’’ he said. ‘‘They’re a team who have probably been equally as down on confidence as what we’ve been over the last couple of weeks.
‘‘We’re at home. We really need to take the initiative at really get at them.’’