Craig Deans says the Jets are feeling confident ahead of Sunday’s trip south of the border to face the Melbourne Victory.
Hunter Ports Newcastle Jets assistant coach Craig Deans says the Jets are feeling confident ahead of Sunday-s trip south of the border to face the Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park.
Last weekend-s 2-0 loss to Sydney FC was the Jets- first defeat in six matches, but Deans was adamant the setback had not affected self-belief of the players heading into Sunday-s clash with Melbourne.
Newcastle are the only foundation Hyundai A-League Club to boast a winning record against the Victory - a statistic which Deans says will give the Jets added confidence this weekend.
“We-ve done pretty well down there in the last two or three years in particular so we can go down there with the confidence of knowing we can win down there, but we need to improve on our effort from last weekend,” Deans explained.
“Victory and ourselves are in a similar position on the table so we-ve both probably got room for improvement.
“We-ll be looking to go down there and improve on last weekend-s performance and make sure we continue to get better every week.”
Despite their overall positive record against Melbourne Victory, the Jets suffered a 5-0 defeat the last time the two sides met.
Deans said the Jets had put the disappointment of that result well and truly behind them.
“This year we-ve been pretty stable in the team that-s started every week and that-s something that should help a lot,” Deans explained.
“Defensively, the structure of what we have this year is a lot more solid than the team we took down there last year.
“If you don-t learn from something like that, you-re not doing your job properly. That was a long time ago now, but we certainly learnt some lessons from that game.”
Jets marquee striker Emile Heskey made his first starting appearance of the season against the Sky Blues last weekend and Deans said it is important the Jets squad adapt to playing with the former England international once again.
“It-s something that we-ll work on during the week,” Deans said.
“We have a long turnaround this week so we-ve got a few sessions to look at how we can best utilise our own players and what formation and what tactics will best suit playing against Melbourne Victory.
“Emile is a number 9, he-s played there his whole career and it-s somewhere that he is comfortable.
“It-s just a matter of making sure the people around him understand the way we want him to play and make sure they-re effective with Emile.”
Connor Chapman is also in the frame for selection at centre-back after missing a pair of games through injury.
“Connor has missed two weeks now, so it-s a matter of him showing that he is deserving of getting his spot back,” Deans said.
“Taylor Regan has come in the past two weeks and Josh Mitchell the week before and they performed quite well.
“That-s something we-ve been looking for, when players come into the side, they perform well and contribute well to the team.” The clash with Melbourne is the start of a difficult stretch of games for the Jets before Christmas.
Looming on the horizon are clashes with second-placed Western Sydney Wanderers and first-placed Brisbane Roar, however Deans said the Jets would not be looking too far ahead.
“It-s the oldest cliché in the book, but if you start looking three or four games ahead, you lose focus on your next one,” Deans said.
“From out point of view, the focus is only on Melbourne Victory on Sunday.”