It’s Round 2 of the Hyundai A-League, and the Jets kick proceedings off this weekend with a trip to Adelaide on Friday night.
The Reds came up against Sydney FC last weekend and played out a 1-1 draw. They’ve also got the FFA Cup Final against the Sky Blues pencilled in for next Tuesday night.
Here are five things to watch this weekend.
There will be plenty of familiarity among players from both sides on Friday night, with as many as four players between the two teams boasting time in both jerseys.
Now in Newcastle, former Adelaide skipper Nigel Boogaard will return to the club for which he played a total of 98 matches over five seasons.
In Adelaide colours, there could be as many as three former Newcastle Jets – Taylor Regan, Craig Goodwin, and Ryan Kitto.
Debutants kicking on
Last weekend’s clash with Wellington featured four players making their Hyundai A-League debut for the Newcastle Jets.
Of those players, only Matt Ridenton played a full match, but there were solid performances all around: Jair got into good positions, Kaine Sheppard was solid at the point of attack, and Mitch Austin put the ball on a dinner plate for Dimi Petratos’ 95th minute goal.
With no new injuries among the squad, all four are well and truly in Ernie’s plans once again for Friday night’s clash.
An injection of pace
Speaking of debutants, how good was Mitch Austin off the bench last Sunday afternoon?
The winger was renowned for his pace prior to that ACL injury last November, and in Wellington proved that he’s not lost a yard despite the long road back to fitness.
Whether it is another cameo off the bench on Friday night or the chance to impress from kick-off, Austin will give the Reds plenty to worry about.
Leading the line
Jets boss, Ernie Merrick has made clear he’s pleased with the nine attackers at his disposal this season and it was Jason Hoffman who was picked to lead the line last Sunday.
Things have come full circle for the Hamilton Olympic junior, who started his career at the top end of the pitch, before being moved back in defence. Merrick shifted him onto the wing last year, and this year it’s into the number 9 position.
Hoffman leading from the front will ensure one thing though – attack, attack, attack. It’s a mentality which the Jets will maintain, whether it be on the road or home at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Return of the Kanta
One of last season’s most influential players, Ben Kantarovski missed the opening weekend of the 2018/19 season with a hamstring complaint.
His return from a hamstring injury could happen this weekend, but a spot in the starting XI isn’t guaranteed – Matt Ridenton and Steve Ugarkovic were valiant in defeat against Wellington.
When you add in Nick Cowburn clipping at their heels, it’s a tough team for Kanta to crack. Whoever it may be, expect maximum effort from the two in the centre of midfield on Friday.