Jets expecting tough challenge against Victory

Gary van Egmond says the Jets are under no illusions of the tough task facing them against Melbourne Victory on Sunday.

Hunter Ports Newcastle Jets head coach Gary van Egmond says the Jets are under no illusions of the tough task facing them when they take on Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park on Sunday.

The Jets were defeated 5-0 by Melbourne at the same venue in Round 23 last season, but will take confidence from their 1-0 win over the Victory at AAMI Park in pre-season.

“It-s always a tough environment and they-re a very dangerous team whether they-re camped in your half or playing on the counter,” van Egmond said.

“They-ve got a lot of strike power and we-re going to have to be at our best come Sunday.

“They-re at home and you know they-re going to be confident and buoyed by their home support, but that-s the challenge for us.

“We have to ensure we keep our goal intact and for the mainstay, we-ve been pretty good at that this year.”

Van Egmond highlighted Socceroos midfielder Mark Milligan as a player the Jets would have to watch closely throughout the contest.

“He-ll have his mate Ruben (Zadkovich) on him this week and I-ve already spoken to Ruben about that and he-s really looking forward to the contest of playing up against Mark,” van Egmond said.

“It-ll be a good challenge for both of them. Milligan is probably the benchmark in the country as far as midfielders are concerned and Ruben wants to test himself, so he-s really looking forward to this contest.

“We-ll definitely play with the one holding midfielder and two number eights who will try and push on to each of their midfielders and move them around a little bit.

“It will be a good contest to see how we can look to ensure we keep possession and not turn it over too quickly in transition.”

Emile Heskey returns to AAMI Park for the first time since he was injured in pre-season by a tackle from Victory defender Nick Ansell.

Heskey made his first starting appearance of the season against Sydney FC last weekend and despite it coinciding with the Jets- first loss in three matches, van Egmond said he expected the former England international to be a key figure against the Victory on Sunday.

“I have no regrets with starting Emile and I think he did quite well,” van Egmond explained.

“It will be horses for courses a lot of times this year.

“We-re under no illusions that we-re going to have to use a squad and it-s not only going to be 11 players who get us to a Grand Final.

“At the moment we have a full roster with no injuries, which is full credit to our medical and strength and conditioning staff, and there is great competition for places within the squad.”

Despite speculation in media outlets about his future at the Jets, van Egmond said his focus remains firmly on the game in front of him.

“The first and foremost thing for me is to ensure that we keep winning, because you don-t want to lose your focus,” van Egmond explained.

“We-ve had a reasonably good start to the season and we want to continue that.

“Regardless of whether it-s me or someone else, it-s also about building a culture within your Club.

“It-s not about one coach, it-s about the Club itself and what it stands for, what it-s about what the Club is trying to build. That-s what is most important.

“We have to keep on working as a team to become even more resilient and build that winning mentality.

“We-re in the middle of a really good stretch at the moment with Sydney away, Victory away, Wanderera at home and Roar away.

“We know it-s going to be tough, but we-ll stick by the old cliché and take it one game at a time.

“If we come through this and do well, we-ll set ourselves up quite well for the rest of the season, but at the moment our full focus is on the Victory, they-re a good team and we-re looking forward to the weekend.”