Newcastle Jets Coach Branko Culina has released his squad to play in this weekend’s A-League friendly against Sydney FC in Cessnock.
Newcastle Jets Coach Branko Culina has released his squad to play in this weekend-s A-League friendly against Sydney FC in Cessnock.
The omission of key playmakers Jason Culina (injured), Jeremy Brockie (injured), Ben Kantarovski (Olyroos) and Marko Jesic (Olyroos) has made room for the likes of Jacob Pepper who has continued to impress in the Jets pre-season trial games.
Saturday-s squad is (in alphabetical order):
Ali Abbas, Tiago Calvano, Tarek Elrich, Sam Gallaway, Ryan Griffiths, Labinot Haliti, Ben Kennedy, Matthew Nash, Chris Payne, Jacob Pepper, Taylor Regan, Mario Simic, Byun Sung-Hwan, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, James Virgili , Jobe Wheelhouse, Kasey Wehrman, Ruben Zadkovich.
Culina says supporters can expect to see a run on side resembling his thoughts for the season ahead but the final make up is yet to be decided.
“I-m still in two minds about a few key positions but Saturday-s run on side will be a good indication of what to expect for next month-s season opener,” he said.
The Jets mentor says he plans to increase game time for the likely run on side at the Baddeley Park hit out with just one scheduled pre-season game remaining before the launch of the A-League season.
“We will be playing under A-League conditions which will limit our available substitutions but I hope to run our key players for at least 60 minutes to help their match fitness. It will be 10 days since they last played so it will be necessary to have as much time on the pitch as possible.
“Having said that, with injuries and players away on Olyroos duties we will only have a squad of 15 or 16 players so there will be plenty of opportunity for extended game time.”
Saturday is also the final chance for the Jets to test themselves against genuine A-League contenders.
“It-s also another opportunity for our younger players to make a final impression on the coaching staff,” Culina said.
“There have been some great performances throughout the trials we-ve played, in particular young Jacob Pepper. We-ll be looking to Jacob again this weekend to see what he-s capable of against elite competition. He-s certainly benefited from the experience so far.
“We-ll also be looking to our senior group for leadership. The likes of Kasey Wehrman, Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Tarek Elrich are all charged with the responsibility to lead by example and I expect their experience to play a major role in encouraging the junior members of the squad.”
The Jets will host Sydney FC as the feature match in a two game program. Kick off is at 5.00pm.
If you haven't already secured your ticket to the game, do it now through PROticket.