Carl Veart was asked if Goodwin should win the Johnny Warren Medal. His answer was fascinating

Carl Veart feels his side need to become less reliant on the star Adelaide United winger going into next season.

Adelaide United coach Carl Veart believes his side’s reliance on star winger Craig Goodwin has been an “Achilles heel” for his charges this season.

The Reds fell short of a spot in the Isuzu UTE A-League Grand Final in the Semi Finals for the third consecutive season, after going down 2-0 (4-1 on aggregate) to the Central Coast Mariners in the second leg at Industree Group Stadium.

Goodwin was central to the Reds’ third-place finish and put together a career best campaign, scoring 15 goals and tallying 10 assists, becoming only the third player in the competition’s history to register double digits in both categories in a single season.

The Socceroos winger scored all Adelaide’s goals in the Finals Series, including a double in a 2-0 Elimination Final victory over Wellington Phoenix and a penalty in the first-leg against the Mariners but was unable to will his side back into the tie on Saturday evening.

Veart was asked post-game if he felt Goodwin’s season warranted being in the mix for a first-ever Johnny Warren Medal, and despite taking note of his impressive goals and assists tally, he feels the Reds need to look at easing the load on their star winger next season.

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“Yeah, look, I suppose when you look at the amount of goals and the amount of assists that he’s provided for us throughout the season,” Veart said.

“I suppose that’s maybe been a little bit of our Achilles heel as well that we’ve relied so much on Craig to provide that end product for us.

“So that’s something that we’re going to have to have a good look at in the off-season, how else we can limit that load on Craig.”

Despite his incredible season, Goodwin had battled through his own injury concerns, after his osteitis pubis flared up towards the end of the season; the same injury that almost robbed him of a place in the Socceroos’ 2022 FIFA World Cup squad.

The Socceroo was one of many Reds players battling through niggles at the latter end of the season, while the likes of Hiroshi Ibusuki and Jay Barnett were rubbed out with injury concerns of their own last week.

“If we had a bit of luck with injuries and the like throughout the year. We’ve had a lot of boys pushing through, I won’t name names,” Goodwin told Network 10 post-game.

“We’ve had boys that have had for the last month… parasites. We’ve had one player playing with a cracked rib, other boys with other sorts of injuries. It’s not excuses but they’re all factors and timing.

“Central Coast have hit good form at the right time and for us we’ve just fallen short. First and second are in the Grand Final, so good luck to both teams and we will go away, enjoy the break and come back next year even stronger.”

The Reds finished the season with only one win in their last seven games of the campaign, with those dropped points preceding their win over the ‘Nix, seeing them lose second spot on the standings and the all-important week-off.

Although they’ve fallen just short again, Veart believes his side are on the right track, lamenting the “small things” that’s cost them a spot in the Grand Final.

“Yes, this is our third season in a row that we’ve lost at this mark,” he said.

“It hurts, but there’s not a lot of difference between winning and losing when you get this close, it’s just the small things and it’s tough again.

“But the boys are very resilient and that’s why we have to show some of that resilience next year… and hopefully get to the Grand Final next year.”

On a positive note, a plethora of Adelaide teenagers stood out this season, showing signs of enormous potential when handed an opportunity in the senior team.

The likes of Luka Jovanovic, Ethan Alagich and Panashe Madanha were all handed senior debuts this season, while Nestory Irankunda, Jonny Yull and Alexandar Popovic all continued their development in the Reds set-up.

Irankunda particularly stood out in his second season in the senior side, catching the eye of European sides including Bayern Munich who are interested in his services, while Jovanovic was named Isuzu UTE A-League Player of the Month in March for his exploits up top.

Veart said he can’t wait to see the continued growth of his younger cohort going into next season.

“It’s been a great season, that we’ve given quite a few teenagers opportunities this year and so we’re going to get some good growth out of them for next season, which is pleasing for the club as well and exciting for our fans,” he said.

“It’s just important that when we look at tonight, we’re missing seven players with long term injuries from our playing group.

“But that’s a credit to the younger boys that have come in and filled those gaps over the course of the season and I’m really looking forward to seeing that growth next year and getting more out of those younger players for next season.”