Deng gives Victory coach selection headache for Jets

MELBOURNE Victory faces a selection dilemma for its clash with the Newcastle Jets at Hunter Stadium tonight, with coach Kevin Muscat admitting he was unsure what to do with teenage defender Thomas Deng.

Deng was outstanding in his starting debut as Victory prevailed 3-2 in the Melbourne derby last Saturday night.

The 18-year-old replaced the suspended Leigh Broxham in the starting XI, after the versatile vice-captain was controversially sent off in the round-one draw against Adelaide United.

But Broxham is available for the trip to Newcastle, leaving Muscat with a difficult choice for the round-three clash.

"He did very well last week," Muscat said of Deng. "From the outside, he exceeded expectations, but certainly from within, we respected what he could do and he had a great performance.

"Whether he stays in the team or not, time will tell."

Muscat said his team had recovered well after a thrilling derby, with Fahid Ben Khalfallah cleared of injury after leaving training early on Tuesday. "He felt a little bit sore and stiff, but he's been fine," Muscat said.

Jean-Paul de Marigny - the former Victory assistant and now assistant to Jets coach Scott Miller - said facing the reigning A-League champions would be a huge test for his rebuilding side.

"(The Victory is) very dangerous in transition from out of possession and into possession, so it's vital for us that our defence is very good," he said.

Newcastle is unbeaten in its past seven home matches against the Victory in the A-League (won three, drawn four) - its longest run against it in the league.

However, the past three encounters at Hunter Stadium have ended in draws.


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