Fire turns to an English recruit PNG international also comes into side
FOOTBALL: The Sunshine Coast Fire expects the return of English recruit Stephen Hindmarch will plug the gaping defensive hole left by injured veteran Ryan Smith when the misfiring competition heavyweight clashes at home tomorrow with the Capricorn Cougars.
In another much-needed boost, the match will mark the Fire debut of Papua New Guinea international Cyril Muta, the younger brother of Coast midfielder David Muta, and Frenchman Nicolas Bechar returns to the wing after a longterm ankle injury.
Muta’s inclusion in the side will help offset the continuing absence of Fire captain Tyson Holmes.
The seasoned midfielder is trialling with Perth Glory.
Hindmarch, a former youth player with English League One club Carlisle United, joined the Fire after the season started.
After playing in the Fire’s 1-1 draw with the Bulls in April, he has not been picked since.
He has been playing for Caboolture in the McDonald’s Premier League and the reason for the shortness of his initial association with the Fire is unclear, given the club speaks so highly of him.
Stand-in Coast skipper Greig Henslee is a Hindmarch fan.
Henslee said the young Englishman, who played with Hawkes Bay United in New Zealand’s national league last season, was a very strong tackler who kept things simple.
“He was excellent in that game (against the Bulls),” he said.
“He came in and trained with us for about three or four weeks before that game, so we know what he’s about, and it’s a massive plus for us this season being able to retain his services.”
The second-placed Fire, the reigning two-time premier and champion, has fallen 13 points behind fierce rival Brisbane after defeats in two of its past three games.
Henslee and Coast coach Richard Hudson have already declared the side’s premiership tilt over.
However, Henslee is confident the Fire will finish the season strongly once at full strength or near full strength.
The fifth-placed Cougars have won only four games this season.
One of their seven defeats was a 3-2 away loss to the Coast in round nine.
Henslee warned that Capricorn was “potent” going forward, with Cougars striker Sander Waterland’s 13 goals the third highest tally in the competition.
Capricorn’s 32 goals this season is two more than the Fire’s total, though the former has conceded 20 more goals.
THAT’S THE GOAL: The Fire’s Greig Henslee is confident his team will finish the season strongly once near full strength.