JETS defender Taylor Regan has dismissed rumours of a rift with coach Gary van Egmond, saying he has spent the past two games on the sidelines because of tactical reasons, not a personality clash.
Regan has not played since he was substituted in injury time against Wellington Phoenix on January 27, after which he remonstrated with van Egmond on the sideline.
But the 24-year-old has been recalled for tonight’s clash with Melbourne Heart at Hunter Stadium and took the chance yesterday to quash speculation he and the coach had been at loggerheads.
‘‘Obviously there’s been a lot of talk about that and you can quote me here and now, there was nothing in that,’’ Regan said yesterday.
‘‘The coaching staff thought I was injured, and it was just miscommunication between the physio and the bench.
‘‘Obviously it was disappointing that it came out that way and it looked that way. But there was no bad blood between myself and Gary.
‘‘I haven’t played the last two games tactically because he wanted a left- and right-footed centre back, as he stated.
‘‘But this week with Connor [Chapman] out injured and a few players a little bit out of form, I get my opportunity.’’
The Dudley-Redhead junior was a regular for Newcastle last season, playing in 20 A-League games.
But this year he has surprisingly made only five appearances, two of which helped the Jets produce clean sheets.
Regan admitted it had been a frustrating season and at one stage he had considered interest from rival clubs.
‘‘I never really wanted to leave,’’ he said. ‘‘But you have to take everything in and consider your options.
‘‘At the moment, I’m here and I’m happy. My friends, family, everything’s here in Newcastle, so I don’t really want to go anywhere. It never really crossed my mind.’’
Regan said he had been assured by van Egmond that ‘‘if you play well, you won’t lose your spot’’ and was determined to consolidate his position.
‘‘It’s now down to me,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m the only one who can control my destiny and that’s what I’m looking to do ... I don’t want to lose my spot again, but I realise that if I don’t play well, it’s inevitable I will. I have to stand up and be counted and show what I’ve got.’’
Van Egmond has rotated his back four all season and there will be at least two, and probably three, changes tonight.
Chapman is unavailable with an ankle injury and Josh Mitchell and Scott Neville are both likely to be dropped after the 2-1 loss to Western Sydney last week.
Regan will partner Swiss Dominik Ritter, alongside either versatile Josh Brillante or Andrew Hoole at right back and Sam Gallaway on the left.
‘‘Myself and Dominik, we played in the youth league last week and we kept a clean sheet,’’ Regan said. ‘‘We did our job and this week we step in and get an opportunity to keep a clean sheet in front of our home supporters.’’
He said he and Ritter felt ‘‘very comfortable’’ in tandem.
‘‘I think tomorrow night we’ll show that we can stand up and make the position our own.’’
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AAP reports: Melbourne Heart coach John Aloisi says it would be great for his club, the national team and Australian soccer in general if Lucas Neill is lured to the A-League.
The Socceroos captain could sign for the Heart within the next 48 hours, raising the enticing prospect of the 34-year-old making his A-League debut the following weekend against Sydney FC marquee man Alessandro Del Piero.
Neill has been on the lookout for a new home since he was released by United Arab Emirates club Al Wasl a fortnight ago.
Aloisi is keen to shore up his defensive stocks after losing Curtis Good, Michael Marrone and Aziz Behich.
‘‘I had a chat to Lucas a couple of days ago to see where he was at football-wise, what he wanted out of the rest of the season, and he wants to play football,’’ said Aloisi, who spent years playing alongside Neill for the Socceroos.
‘‘He wants to show he still has a good level of playing, which I believe he has. He’s still the national team captain and he wants to win games.
‘‘That’s great for us because we want to make finals, and if we make finals, we’ve got every chance of going on to challenge and win something.’’
Neill has made 89 appearances for the Socceroos and featured at two World Cups.
He spent six years with Millwall in England before stints at Blackburn, West Ham, Everton and Turkish club Galatasaray, moving to the Middle east with Al Jazira in 2011.
Aloisi said Neill always kept himself in good physical shape, meaning he could come in and make an immediate impact.
Heart football operations manager John Didulica said the Heart had been in contact with Neill since he parted ways with Al Wasl and those negotiations had escalated in recent days.