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HOT HALLORAN...Bleiberg says any suitors must have "their wallets ready"
GOLD Coast United coach Miron Bleiberg insists it's going to take a one hell of a chequebook to steal rising star Ben Halloran away from the club.
The 19-year-old attacking dynamo put in another sterling performance on Wednesday against Newcastle, with his pace and energy the spark his side needed to mount their second-half comeback.
While they fell one goal short, whenever Halloran had the ball it seemed like trouble for the Jets defence.
His 72nd minute goal was finished with a level of poise and assuredness far beyond his tender years, as he tucked away Peter Jungschlager's cross like a veteran marksman.
The Cairns-born youngster is starting to make a name for himself - and in the A-League, that usually means opposition clubs and overseas suitors will surely come knocking for his services sooner or later. But Gold Coast fans can rest easy.
Halloran is contracted for another two seasons beyond this one, meaning he can only leave if the club is offered a sizable transfer fee - or if the club decides to release him to another club for the next step in his career.
"Benny's got a contract so people can ring, if they've got their wallets ready and they can throw an offer to Clive (Palmer) and see what happens," Bleiberg said.
"But it doesn't matter if the phone is ringing, he's contracted. We anticipated that he would become what he is.
"It's a surprise for outside people but not for our camp. He's such a talented player, he can play in any attacking position."
At the other end of the pitch, Sunday afternoon's match against Melbourne Heart at Skilled Park looms as the perfect opportunity for United to return to their frugal ways in defence.
Just as Gold Coast were beginning to forge a reputation for being one of the tightest sides in the league after four clean sheets on the bounce, they slipped up in Newcastle.
The three goals they conceded came as a result of three defensive errors that were punished by a Jets side lacking in firepower.
But Bleiberg was hesitant to read too much into the 3-2 scoreline, given the startling amount of goals on Big Wednesday, which he believes came as a result of scheduling.
"If you look at the whole round, there were so many goals scored it was unheard of. To my little intelligence, the only explanation is that players were tired (from the schedule)," he said.
"To defend you need concentration, to attack you go by instinct. All defences all across the league had a lapse of concentration.
"I wouldn't point at my players and blame them, it's not the reality, because they spent six or seven days away from home - in a hotel, out of their comfort zone.
"We have to go back to the drawing board, but if make the same stupid mistakes against the Heart then maybe we were in a hurry to say how good we are. If it was a one-off I'll be happy to forgive the players."