Knights moving up

Melbourne Knights' Nikola Jurkovic. (Luke Hemer) 204315_09

Tara Murray

A youthful Melbourne Knights squad is heading in the right direction in the National Premier League.

Under new coach Steve Bebic, the Knights sit in fifth, with a 7-3-4 record and have been putting together some really strong performances.

Bebic’s aim when he came joined the Knights was to put together a youthful squad with one eye on the future.

“When I got appointed there were 13-14 players remaining from last season’s squad,” he said of the club that went without a win in the five rounds played last season before the season was called off.

“We had a fair bit of turnover for several reasons. The focus we put in was a longer term plan, so the players can hopefully grow with the club.

“There were three or four younger boys here and we got seven or eight new players from across Australia.

“In terms of recruitment we looked at players who were under the age of 22 or 23 who suited the way we wanted to play.”

Bebic said they were unlikely to see the full potential of the group for two to three years, when they’re hoping that the core group would have been together for a few years.

He said the club remained focused on bringing through young players and providing the pathway throughout the club.

Bebic said he had been happy with the first part of the season, with a COVID-19 lockdown halting the season for three weeks.

“It’s been very positive overall,” he said.

“We had 13-odd games and our performances, all but one against Bentleigh Greens, has been where it has needed to be.

“We’ve been unlucky not to have a couple more wins.”

The Knights resumed their season with a 3-2 win against Hume City, in an important match in the race for the top six and a finals spot.

Bebic said it was a strong performance on the road against a team that had proven hard to beat at home.

Just eight points separates the top eight teams after 14 rounds.

Bebic said it would be an interesting few weeks across the competition to see how all the teams handle the mid-season break.

“I think the next three to four weeks we’ll see how the break affects us and other teams,” he said.

“We want to remain competitive and keep the standard high and make our supporters proud which is the main aim.

“Hopefully we can make finals. For us though it’s more about the process driven than the results.

“The results will take care of itself and that’s what we felt happened in the first half of the season.

“Any team could go on a run of three or four matches. Anything can happen.”

The Knights were due to face ladder leaders Avondale on Friday night.

Avondale won 2-0.