Newcastle Jets Head Coach Mark Jones is counting on the competition that now exists for places in his matchday squad to help drive his troops to greater levels of performance in the final six rounds of the season.
Jones has had to deal with injuries and suspensions throughout much of the Hyundai A-League 2016/17 campaign, though leading into the crucial final rounds the Jets possess a fairly clean bill of health plus no active suspensions to worry about.
This Sunday the Jets could have captain Nigel Boogaard, Wayne Brown, Ma Leilei and Jack Duncan either back in the starting eleven or matchday squad, leaving the club’s first team manager with a welcome selection headache over the next two nights.
“We pretty much have everyone available so it’s a selection dilemma now regarding who is in,” Jones told local press on Friday.
“There will be players that miss the entire squad, and there will be players who miss the starting line-up, so there’s a lot of competition for spots. Now it is about someone standing up now and meeting expectations.”
“We’ll have some excellent depth on the bench (against Brisbane Roar) and that enables us to make changes and impact on the game when we do make those changes.”
The Jets will be searching for their third win over Brisbane this season when the two teams meet at 7pm on Sunday night.
In round 2 the Jets slammed Roar 4-0 at McDonald Jones Stadium. In round 14 Morten Nordstrand’s late strike lifted Newcastle to a 3-2 victory at Suncorp Stadium.
Only Sydney FC has managed to defeat the Jets at home this campaign, and Jones wants the Club to enhance its good record against the rest of the competition.
“This week is a bit of a must win and hopefully they (the players) go out with the right frame of mind,” he said.
“Last week (against Central Coast Mariners) was an opportunity lost and the same the week before against Adelaide.
“We had put ourselves in a great position to consolidate a spot in the top six and we need to take our opportunities.”
Sunday’s game will be the first that Roar play since their 6-0 shellacking at the feet of Ulsan Hyundai in the AFC Champions League in mid-week.
Jones is sure John Aloisi’s men will be determined to earn back some pride with a strong performance in the Hyundai A-League, though believes the travel and amount of fixtures Roar has had to play recently could affect their endeavours.
“They will come back into the (Hyundai) A-League perhaps with dented pride and hoping to prove a point,” he said.
“They were flat (in Korea) and to be fair I hope they are flat again.
“It’s a tough ask for anyone playing in the (AFC) Champions League.
“It’s difficult for them to travel that far with the amount of games that they have played and be sharp.
“Hopefully they are not at their peak on the weekend and we are a little bit sharper and take our opportunities,” Jones concluded.
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