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Merrick blasts refs after injury rules Hoolahan out for three months

Australia's refereeing standards haven't improved in 15 years, Newcastle Jets coach Ernie Merrick says.

Merrick launched a fresh blast after his prized overseas signing Wes Hoolahan suffered a serious ankle injury which will sideline him for at least three months.

Hoolahan was hurt in Newcastle's 1-0 loss to Adelaide United in Tuesday night's FFA Cup quarterfinal.

Merrick says the initial prognosis on the Republic of Ireland international is an ankle syndesmosis injury which will take at least 12 weeks to repair.

The circumstance of Hoolahan's injury and other refereeing calls in the Jets' Cup loss riled Merrick.

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He says the standard of refereeing hasn't improved since the A-League started in 2005.

Hoolahan, a veteran of 43 internationals, limped off after a tangle with Adelaide's Ryan Kitto early in the second half.

"He got kicked from behind and he twisted his ankle forward -- and then he got a free kick against him," Merrick said.

"It's hard to complain when you lose a game.

"But these things are very tough to take because I have been in this league a very long time and the refereeing hasn't improved.

"And you [the media] are probably going to get me fined because I know you're going to make the most of what I have just said."

Merrick has previously been fined by Football Federation Australia for code of conduct breaches for comments about referees.

He was fined $3000 in February this year for comments about the video assistant referee -- the penalty was rescinded on appeal.

In March last year, Merrick was fined $3000 for labelling refereeing and the use of VAR as "disgraceful" after an A-League game.

An FFA spokesman had no comment on Wednesday about Merrick's latest comments.

Wes Hoolahan
Wes Hoolahan was helped off the pitch after a tangle with Adelaide's Ryan Kitto early in the second half.

Merrick was also upset with two other controversial calls which went against the Jets as they were tipped out of the Cup.

Goalkeeper Lewis Italiano was given a straight red in the 10th minute for a challenge outside his area which referee Daniel Elder believed was a "last man" foul, but Merrick felt it was an incorrect call.

And the veteran coach said a "blatant hand ball" by Adelaide captain Michael Jakobsen should have resulted in a Jets penalty but didn't.

"We have still got this system where the referees don't seem to refer to the linesmen and the linesmen don't say anything," he said.

Meanwhile, the Jets have announced the signing of Northern Ireland under-21 international Bobby Burns on a season-long loan deal.

Burns, a 19-year-old left-back, has been loaned by Scottish Premier League club Hearts.

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