Melbourne City boss Patrick Kisnorbo says he’s been buoyed by the acquisition of English defender Carl Jenkinson on a six-month loan deal ahead of Sunday’s clash against the Central Coast Mariners.
With full-back Nathaniel Atkinson shipped off to Hearts during the January transfer window, City’s defence has taken further hits ahead of Sunday’s game against the Mariners as Scott Jamieson, Nuno Reis, and Rostyn Griffiths will be unavailable.
Jenkinson has been brought across to add cover to City’s defence and comes in with an impressive CV having played both Premier League and EFL Championship football.
Though he’s arrived in the country, has had his first session with the club, Kisnorbo says he’ll be no guarantee to feature on the weekend, saying he and the staff will be monitoring whether Jenkinson is right to go.
“He’s [Carl] just come in today so we’ll need to see how he is, he’s come off a long flight, the most important thing is the health of the player first so we need to do our due diligence by him,” Kisnorbo told media on Friday.
“But I’ll go by him, and see how he feels and we’ll leave it to the last minute whether he travels or not.”
With City currently needing coverage in both central defensive and full-back positions, Kisnorbo feels the versatility of Jenkinson will be an asset going forward, saying he’s lucky to have landed a player of his ilk at the club.
“I think he can play sort of a double role, he’s played centre-back, he’s played full-back, obviously with Nathaniel [Atkinson] leaving we sort of had to bring someone into at least have back up,” he said.
“But someone of his quality we’re very lucky to have, I think he’s a leader in a group, he’s experienced and I think he’ll want to challenge himself by coming down here and leaving where he was and to play some football.
“For us we’re lucky to have him, for him, I think it’s a time where he wants to start playing football again and he has an opportunity to do that here with us.”
Kisnorbo also touched on how quickly the player has been able to assimilate himself to the club, having arrived quickly in Melbourne since signing on loan from Nottingham Forrest.
“He’s been jabbed, he’s had all the things that he’s needed, he literally arrived last night I think it was at midnight, so once we had everything done it was pretty much pack your bags and leave,” he said.
“He left within a day or two to get down here, so it’s quite impressive for someone to leave his family and his girlfriend in a drop of a hat to come to the other side of the world to play some football…shows the character of the person – the endeavour to play football games.
“Honestly it was within 24 hours that this was happening, I spoke to Carl before that, but obviously we didn’t know [how long it would take] with the legal things with visas and all that, but it all came and literally in a drop of a hat he was here and with us this morning.”
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The City boss also gave an update on centre-back Curtis Good who is still recovering from COVID and will once again be unavailable for selection, with Kisnorbo saying that the players have reacted differently to the virus.
“He’s still recovering, like I’ve said [in] previous times it [COVID] affects certain players in different ways, I just heard Alphonso Davies has got myocarditis at Bayern Munich,” he said.
“I’m not saying that Curtis has that, what I’m saying is this affects different people and Curtis is one of those [who’s] unfortunately taken a longer time [to recover].”
Having failed to keep a clean sheet in their past three A-League Men’s fixtures, Kisnorbo touched on the side’s defence, saying it’s an area that needs improvement while also mentioning players being out gives others an opportunity to come in and step up.
“You never want to concede a lot of goals, sometimes it happens and all we need to do is learn from it, train it and improve,” he said.
“Hopefully when we get some players back and everyone is okay and healthy things change, but it’s an opportunity for people to come in now, it’s a chance, and it’s a challenge for us that we need to deal with, we need to work to improve.”
Once again Matthew Leckie was a topic for discussion, having struggled to find his feet thus far with City, the winger was impressive against Adelaide United last weekend. Kisnorbo says he’s impressed with his progression and emphasised he will continue to back his player.
“My expectation of Matthew is to train hard and work hard, anything else beyond that I can’t control,” he said.
“Like I’ve said from the start when he joined [the club] till now, he will take time, it’s not just an easy fix, it’s not just at a click of a finger things will happen, he will take time, this system is different, the style is different, the adaption from Germany to Australia, to the A-League, he’s had to deal with a lot.
“But the great thing is he’s never stopped, he’s improving day by day, hence why you see the improvement against Adelaide [last weekend] and hopefully he continues, but I’m the first one to say I’ll back him no matter what because he’s a terrific player, but some players take longer than others [to adapt] and I’m willing to always give him the time to do that.”
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