Major League Soccer

Inter Miami head coach Phil Neville 'super pleased' with 'hurt' Gonzalo Higuain

Chris Smith
Higuain is having to settle for a role off the bench.
Higuain is having to settle for a role off the bench. / Ira L. Black - Corbis/GettyImages

Inter Miami head coach Phil Neville has hailed the attitude of Designated Player Gonzalo Higuain as he continues to ride the bench.

The Argentine striker is among the highest-paid players in Major League Soccer right now but a downturn in form and injury issues, coupled with the emergence of Wolves loanee Leonardo Campana, he's been dropped of the Herons' starting XI.

Higuain's last four MLS appearances have come from the bench, most recently coming on in the 74th minute of Miami's 2-0 win over the New York Red Bulls on Sunday.

Though Neville maintained this could be Higuain's role in the team for a while, he couldn't help but be impressed by the 34-year-old.

“I was super, super pleased with Gonzalo because he's hurting, he’s really hurt,” Neville said.

“He’s a proud guy who wants to play every game, but knows at this moment in time, his role might be just that for this moment in time, but I thought he was different class when he came on.”

Higuain was introduced alongside Victor Ulloa and the two combined to provide the assist for the late clincher by Robert Tayler - himself a 60th-minute substitute alongside Robbie Robinson. Given their effect on finishing the match, Neville is entitled to give himself a pat on the back for his substitutions.

“I think what you saw was the match winners, really the people that won us the game were the substitutions that came on," he said.

Inter Miami have had an up-and-down season, starting one point from their opening five games before enjoying three straight wins in MLS play. This latest victory marks the end of another four-game winless slump in the league, but Neville is convinced his team are heading in the right direction - especially at home where Miami have taken 11 of their 15 points so far.

“There's a great spirit and togetherness and there's a great belief that we're heading in the right direction,” Neville said. "We’re now beginning to make DRV PNK a little bit of a tough place to go where it's been easy for teams in the past.”