Newcastle Jets head coach Phil Stubbins is expecting a difficult test against the Central Coast Mariners in Mudgee on Saturday afternoon.
The Jets face their F3 rivals in the opening match of the Hyundai A-League season on October 11 and Stubbins believes Saturday’s friendly against the Mariners will be a good litmus test for his side.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to play another A-League team, especially with Central Coast being the team we face in the first game of the season proper,” Stubbins said.
“We feel as though we’ve made some strides in terms of bringing the squad together and how we want to play, so we’re looking forward to it.”
Stubbins said the Jets would not be overly worried about giving away too many secrets to their Round 1 opponents in Saturday’s match.
“For us now I think that it’s pretty important we focus on ourselves and really start bedding in how we want to play, so as a consequence of that, you won’t see much change,” Stubbins said.
“We’re hoping to win the game and I think we can also improve in just about every facet of our play.”
With Ben Kantarovski absent due to suspension, Stubbins indicated that Jacob Pepper is likely to play in a holding midfield role.
“Jacob Pepper was someone who came on against Wellington last week and did a fabulous job for the team there, especially with 10 men as well,” Stubbins said.
“Jacob is one that will be playing in there, then we’ll just look to balance the books in terms of putting players in that can do a job in the middle of the park.”