Brisbane Roar coach Mike Mulvey has backed Luke Brattan to kick on from his impressive showing against Wellington.
Brattan roared back into form in the 2-0 win over the Phoenix, and set up the decisive second goal for Besart Berisha.
The 22-year-old had been below his high standards in the past two games, against Sydney FC and Buriram United.
But Mulvey says when he is fully fit, he will be a crucial part of the club's championship bid.
Brattan has "stood in the shadows" for the past three seasons, according to the coach.
Mulvey said: "What he's lacking at the moment is match fitness because he had about five weeks out and he's had a couple of setbacks this year.
"But you've seen his qualities. He can pass the ball and he's a very intelligent player, and he can get forward as well.
"He's learning the role of screening the back four a bit better and he's making sure that his game is becoming more rounded. So he's definitely a key player for us."
Overall, the coach was pleased with his side's display at the end of a difficult week that had left them, in his words, "running on empty".
Brisbane had flown out to Thailand in midweek to face Buriram in the AFC Champions League qualifier.
Defeat in that tie had ended the Roar's hopes of making the group stage, yet the players were able to put that disappointment behind them at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.
Fans are not necessarily united behind Mulvey right now, as shown when a group unveiled a huge banner in the second half demanding he be sacked.
But having been given a new two-year deal just last week, he remained unfazed when questioned by the media about the protest.
Mulvey argued that fans are entitled to their opinions, and is content to let results do the talking for him.
Brisbane are seventh heading into Friday's away trip to sixth-placed Newcastle, and need consistency if they are to qualify for the Finals Series.
The Roar won back-to-back games against Adelaide United and Wellington at the turn of the year, but have struggled since then and have a two-point gap to make up over the Jets if they are to climb into the top six.
Brisbane are 2.70 to beat Newcastle Jets, who are 2.60 to win on Friday.
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