Emile Heskey says he expects the Jets to lift for their blockbuster clash with Sydney FC at Hunter Stadium on Saturday.
Hunter Ports Newcastle Jets marquee striker Emile Heskey says he expects the Jets to lift for their blockbuster clash with Sydney FC at Hunter Stadium on Saturday.
The match will see the second showdown of the season between the A-League-s two biggest names, Sydney FC-s marquee striker Alessandro Del Piero and Newcastle-s very own Emile Heskey.
Heskey and the Jets came out on top last time the two sides met, with the Jets securing a 3-2 win in front of 35,419 fans at Allianz Stadium in Round 2.
Heskey said coming up against a football icon like Del Piero could inspire some members of the Jets squad to rise to the occasion.
“He-s a great player, he-s achieved a lot over the years and he-s a great ambassador for the game,” Heskey said.
“It-s nice to have someone like that in football in Australia and (Sydney) has got him down there and he-s working wonders.
“They-ll want to (lift their performance against Del Piero). Playing against big players, you always want to do your best and you always want to play against the big teams.
“Having played in the Premier League, you always want to play against Man U, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and now Man City.”
Heskey said the Jets would look to replicate their performance from the win over Sydney earlier this season this weekend.
“We do try to emulate that, but different games bring different formations and different formulas, so you can-t really play the same every game,” he said.
“We-re working on things and that-s what we-re going to try and emulate to put in performances like that more regularly.”
Heskey said the Jets are working hard to try and improve their current form, which has seen them without a goal in four of their last five matches.
“It-s not just me that-s getting frustrated; it-s the whole team,” Heskey said.
“It-s up to us to have formulas to break them down. If people are putting two or three men on me, there-s space elsewhere for people to exploit, so we-ve got to look at that.
“We have to do things better. We conceding too many goals and not scoring enough, so we have got things to work on.”
The Jets have played Heskey primarily as a number nine, with two wide forwards offering support.
The former English international said he didn-t have a preference whether the Jets kept their current formation or played with two up front.
“I-ve played in so many different formations that it-s difficult to break it down and say I prefer this one or I prefer that one, because it can depend on what team you-re playing against,” Heskey said.
“I can say I prefer this or I prefer that, but then you go out there and it doesn-t work because of the team that you-re playing against and the formation.
“I-ll leave that to the manager because they know better.”
Heskey said that while the Jets- confidence was down a bit due to their results in recent weeks, the morale within the playing group was remaining high.
“At the end of the day, confidence will be down. We-re playing some good football, but we-re not getting the results we feel we deserve,” he said.
“We-ve got to pick it up in training and pick it up in the games and we do that ourselves.
“The lads have a good team morale here, so I‘m sure their heads won-t go down, so we-ve go to focus on trying to play some good football and getting these results.
“We-ve got to get back to that way of being resilient, being hard to break down, being tough and being aggressive.”
It was clear to see that the Jets players were in good spirits, with Heskey racing against Mitch Cooper in a 50-metre sprint after training on Tuesday morning.
“In training we were doing a little bit of sprinting and I was beating Mitch, so he said we-ll have a little race over a longer distance. I said, no problem, whenever you-re ready,” Heskey said.
“As you can see, we have fun out on the training pitch with all the lads, which is good.”
You can see the result of the match race by watching the above video.
Newcastle Jets v Sydney FC Saturday, December 22 Hunter Stadium Kick-off 5.30pm Tickets from PROticket
Limited parking will be available for purchase at the car park entrances on game days for the remainder of the Jets 2012/13 season. Whilst there will be parking available for purchase, Hunter Venues does encourage patrons to pre-purchase their parking tickets at a PROticket outlet or online at www.proticket.com.au as parking is subject to availability.