van 't Schip: Safuwan a very positive player

Melbourne City coach John van 't Schip had nothing but praise for Singaporean debutant Safuwan Baharudin after he was drafted into the starting lineup for the Melbourne Derby on Saturday.

Although City were defeated 3-0 by city rivals Melbourne Victory, Safuwan didn't look out of place in midfield in an hour-long cameo.

SEE ALSO Gallery: Safuwan Baharudin debuts in the Melbourne Derby

"I think Safuwan is a very positive player; he can play in different positions as a full back, as a centre back and in the midfield," van 't Schip said after the match.

"He has to first of all get used to his own teammates and secondly to the A-League, but he's a player we rate highly from what we have seen and we think he can still make big steps.

"Looking at him today... he was not afraid to challenge, he was not afraid to coach [and provide direction], he wanted to have the ball; he was strong in the air defensively but also when we go forward, so all those things we have to improve and he has to get used to our way of playing."

Safuwan was a late addition to the Melbourne City starting eleven after an injury to central midfielder Erik Paartalu, after spending the previous game against Western Sydney Wanderers on the bench.

The Singaporean defender appeared to be playing a defensive midfield role in the first half, but was later pushed forward into attacking midfield as City attempted to find a way back into the game.

"Erik Paartalu had a fitness test and didn't pass that test so we had to change his position and we put Safuwan there," van 't Schip explained.

"We had him with us in Abu Dhabi so we knew he could play there and we didn't want to change [our formation] too much.

"He is a player who is fit for that position."

Melbourne City will next host league leaders Perth Glory at AAMI Park in Melbourne on 14 February.

Photo: Jason Heidrich Photography/Melbourne City FC