Craig Deans believes the Jets will have to be wary of a red-hot Wellington Phoenix when the two sides meet on Sunday.
Hunter Ports Newcastle Jets assistant coach Craig Deans believes the Jets will have to be wary of a red-hot Wellington Phoenix outfit when the two sides meet at Hunter Stadium on Sunday.
Wellington are arguably one of the form sides of the Hyundai A-League competition, having lost just once in their past seven outings.
With the Jets sitting level with the Phoenix on 20 competition points with just 10 Rounds remaining, Deans said the outcome of Sunday-s fixture could prove crucial to both sides- Finals Series hopes.
“At this stage of the season three points is a big, big boost for the Club,” Deans said.
“Wellington have been playing really good football. They have a lot of attacking threats and a lot of confidence in their play at the moment, so we need to make sure we-re switched on.
“In saying that, our boys took some real positives out of the game against Western Sydney last weekend and the way we fought back to get a point there, so that gives us some confidence heading into this match.”
The Jets currently sit in ninth spot on the Hyundai A-League ladder, but they are only four points adrift of the fourth-placed Melbourne Victory, who also have a game in hand.
With the middle of the table so congested, Deans said it was important that the Jets focus on one game at a time.
“The last two weeks have been pretty tough on and off the field for everyone, but that-s all behind us now and there-s a really good focus on each game coming up,” Deans said.
“It-s really important that we don-t look too far ahead, but just focus on each game as it comes.”
After being a late withdrawal from last weekend-s clash with the Wanderers due to back spasms, Deans said marquee striker Emile Heskey will be given every opportunity to be fit for Sunday-s clash with the Phoenix.
“Emile is going to need to get on the pitch during the week at some point in time and have a good hit out with the rest of the boys and see how he pulls up from that,” Deans said.
Meanwhile, Deans said that new recruit David Carney was already beginning to look comfortable in his new surrounds.
“Obviously he hasn-t played a game since November when the MLS finished, so he-s been a couple of months without a match,” Carney said.
“The quality is there to see from the start, it-s just a matter of getting some running into him and getting him up to the fitness of the rest of the group, or as close to it as we can.
“I think someone of his quality who has played a number of times for his country and in the leagues around the world that he has, is obviously a good player and we-re looking forward to getting him out there.”
Deans said the coaching staff was yet to decide on whether to use Carney in a fullback or more attacking role.
“He-s very versatile… we-ve got a few options with him and he has told us he is happy to play wherever it best suits the team, whether that-s at fullback or in a wider attacking position,” Deans said.
“We-ve conceded eight goals in the last three games and we-d like to tighten that up a bit, but at the same time we want to make sure we keep scoring goals and his creativity is something that will give us a spark in the front third.
“It-s early days to pigeon-hole him in one position. We just need to have a look at him in training and see how he fits in with the other boys and where he-s best suited for the team.”
Newcastle Jets v Wellington Phoenix Sunday, February 9 Hunter Stadium Kick-off 5pm Tickets available from PROticket.