Jets prepared for Phoenix test

Clayton Zane says the Jets are prepared for difficult test against Wellington Phoenix at Hunter Stadium on Sunday evening.

Hunter Ports Newcastle Jets interim head coach Clayton Zane says the Jets are prepared for difficult test against Wellington Phoenix when the two sides meet at Hunter Stadium on Sunday evening.

Zane said that a large part of the Jets- preparation for the clash was focused on ensuring they stick to their game plan.

“They-re a difficult team in the fact that they have four or five players high up the pitch that can make a difference and they play a lot of stuff off the cuff,” Zane said.

“For us it-s been a week of focussing on what we need to do, rather than Wellington.

“Obviously we need to know their strengths and weaknesses, but if we carry on from last week and keep that defensive structure, it-s going to make life difficult for them.

“With this week being a home match and with the great support we got last week, this is a game where we can definitely try to get a bit more football into our game as well.”

With the Jets and Phoenix both level on 20 competition points and a place in the top six potentially up for grabs, Zane said his players were under no illusions about the importance of the match.

"It-s a cruel league and if you look at the positions, you need to be a very confident group to sit in eighth or ninth position and know that you-re only one win from turning that around,” Zane said.

"But it-s a tough, it-s a tight league and if we get three points on the weekend, everyone-s got a smile on their face.”

Zane said the Jets had garnered a lot of confidence from their last-gasp draw with reigning Premier-s Plate winner Western Sydney Wanderers last weekend, which would hold them in good stead for the clash with Wellington.

“It-s always nice to snatch a point at the death, but I think as far as the overall performance goes, we could walk away happy in terms of the defensive structure, the discipline and even going forward we always looked like a threat,” Zane said.

“It was definitely a performance for the players to take a lot of positives out of and we-re looking to build on that this weekend against Wellington because we think it can get better.”

With Joel Griffiths unavailable for the match and Emile Heskey in doubt after suffering back spasms last weekend, Zane said the Jets would look to capitalise on the encouraging form of striker Adam Taggart against Wellington.

"He-s desperate to lead the line, he-s learning from Emile (Heskey) and he-ll learn from Joel (Griffiths) as well," Zane said.

"Now is his moment to stand up and be counted, and he-s done that last week," Zane said.

"With the young ones it-s always about consistency and we don-t want to put him under too much pressure, but if he can stay in similar form to what he was against Western Sydney, then we-ve got a good player."

Zane said new signing David Carney would not feature for the Jets against the Phoenix.

"I don-t want to push David," Zane said.

"I think Sammy Gallaway and Craig Goodwin were excellent last week, so it actually takes a little bit of pressure off us having to throw David in.

"I don-t think he-s ready and the bench is going to be so important. I think to put someone like Dave Carney on the bench just to give him minutes in his legs, that would be the wrong reason.

‘"The players on the bench need to be able to make a difference in the match.

"So hopefully he-ll be one week, possibly two, depending on how he pulls up at the end of this week."

Newcastle Jets v Wellington Phoenix Sunday, February 9 Hunter Stadium Kick-off 5pm Tickets available from PROticket.