Jets set for big wet

The Newcastle Jets have departed for Townsville to allow the players sufficient time to acclimatise to the severe weather currently being experienced in northern Queensland.

The Newcastle Jets have departed for Townsville to allow the players sufficient time to acclimatise to the severe weather currently being experienced in northern Queensland.

Dairy Farmers Stadium and the surrounding areas have been the subject of recent heavy rains and cyclonic conditions, but Jets Head Coach Branko Culina says that his side will be prepared no matter what circumstances are thrown at his chargers in Saturday night-s Hyundai A-League round 25 contest with the North Queensland Fury.

“We-re a ball playing side and if it-s going to be a heavy pitch it might make it a little bit difficult but we-ll wait and see,” he said. “I think the pitch is in pretty good nick so it would have to cut up fairly heavily, but if it is a different type of pitch to what it is normally we might have to adjust.”

Culina has also pinpointed his team-s defence as a major focal point for the remainder of the season, with the Jets eager to bounce back from a 3-1 loss suffered against NSW rivals Sydney FC last weekend. Indeed, three points in this Saturday-s clash with the Robbie Fowler-led Fury would mathematically seal the Novocastrians place in the 2010 Finals series.

“We-re all aware that if you want to be a top team, particularly in the finals, you can-t concede too many goals.”

“You-re not going to go out there in each game and score three or four goals to win the game so we have to concede less and put the pressure off the attackers a bit more.”

“That-s been our goal all year to be honest, it-s just unfortunate for us that we haven-t quite got it right.”

To further counter the extreme conditions up north, Culina has selected a relatively youthful travelling party, opting for athletic youngsters such as Jason Hoffman and Kaz Patafta to give his troops a splash of exuberance and vitality heading in to the crucial enounter.

However, the Jets- boss acknowledges that with a young side there can be inconsistent performances, something that Culina and his coaching staff have worked hard to limit.

“When you take a punt with younger players you-ve also got to be prepared to accept that they will be up and down, we-re just trying to make sure that they have more good games than bad games,” he explained.

Following the Fury fixture, the Jets will play their penultimate game of the season next week away to local rivals the Central Coast Mariners on Saturday, 6 February at Bluetongue Stadium before taking on the AFC Champions League-bound Adelaide United in the final game of the regular season on Friday, 12 February at EnergyAustralia Stadium.

Match Details: Saturday 30 January 2010 North Queensland Fury v Newcastle Jets Dairy Farmers Stadium, Townsville Local Kick-Off: 8.00pm (9.00pm AEDT) Referee: Ryan Shepheard

Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1, 1 HD and Sky Sport 1.

North Queensland Fury squad: 1.Paul HENDERSON (gk), 2.Robbie MIDDLEBY, 3. Chris TADROSSE, 6. Ufuk TALAY, 7.Jason SPAGNUOLO, 9.Robbie FOWLER (c), 11. David WILLIAMS, 12.Jack HINGERT, 13.Beau BUSCH, 14.Chris GROSSMAN, 16. Paul KOHLER, 17. Osama MALIK, 19. James DOWNEY, 20. Justin PASFIELD (gk), 23. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 24 Dyron DAAL, 26 Matt SMITH, 21. John TAMBOURAS *three to be omitted*

In: Jack HINGERT (promoted), Osama MALIK (promoted), John TAMBOURAS (promoted), Robbie FOWLER (returns to squad), Chris GROSSMAN (promoted)

Out: Jeremy BROCKIE (Broken Leg - 8/10 weeks), Grant SMITH (not selected)

Unavailable: Jacob TIMPANO (hamstring 2 - 4 weeks), Scott WILSON (knee - indefinite), Shane STEFANUTTO (knee - indefinite), James ROBINSON (knee- indefinite), Karl DODD (knee - indefinite), Terry COOKE (not selected), Fred AGIUS (not selected)

Newcastle Jets squad: 1. Ben KENNEDY (gk), 3. Adam D-APUZZO, 4. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 5. Ljubo MILICEVIC, 6. Ben KANTAROVSKI, 7. Jin-Hyung SONG, 8. Matt THOMPSON (c), 11. Tarek ELRICH, 12. Jobe WHEELHOUSE, 14. Michael BRIDGES, 15. Sean ROONEY, 16. Jason HOFFMAN, 22. Kaz PATAFTA, 25. Labinot HALITI, 26. Ali ABBAS, 30. Dion SHAW (gk) *one to be omitted*

In: Jason HOFFMAN (promoted), Kaz PATAFTA (promoted)

Out: Angelo COSTANZO (not selected)

Unavailable: Shaun ONTONG (Achilles - indefinite), Fabio VIGNAROLI (knee - indefinite), Marko JESIC (knee - indefinite), Neil YOUNG (gk) (face - 2/3 weeks)

Head-to-Head: Played 2: North Queensland Fury wins 0, Newcastle Jets wins 2 (0 draws)