Newcastle Jets boss Phil Stubbins says his squad has plenty of confidence heading into this weekend’s clash against the Wellington Phoenix after some positive performances at Hunter Stadium.
The Jets head into Sunday’s match on the back of a thrilling come from behind draw against the Western Sydney Wanderers and a close fought loss to the Brisbane Roar the week before.
But while Stubbins says that facing the Phoenix on home soil is always a difficult challenge he remains confident that if the Jets perform like they have over the last two weeks they have every chance of bring home the three points.
“Obviously now we’ve had two good games where we’ve been well structured and we’ve held our own against two good sides,” Stubbins said.
“But going over to Wellington is going to be a different proposition for us.
“They’re certainly a very good side and it’s well know they’re very good in attack with Nathan Burns and Roy Krishna doing very good things this campaign.
“So we’re going to have our hands full and we’ll have to show out mettle, but we’ll be looking for more of the same.”
Stubbins says the Jets can also take confidence form the fact that the fixture is being played at Hutt Recreational Ground and not Westpac Stadium due to the scheduling of the Cricket World Cup.
“Going over to Wellington is always a tough trip but the change of venue is not going to be something that’s familiar to the Phoenix,” he said.
“The pitch is very good but won’t service them as well as Westpac does and there will be a bit more parity.
“It’s definitely a positive that we’re not going to Westpac and hopefully we can get them on the Recreational Ground.”
Jets right back Scott Neville returns from injury this week and has been made available for selection, but with young gun Nick Cowburn impressing Stubbins last weekend the gaffer is remaining coy about who will be starting.
“Scott’s back to full training and is in a positive frame of mind at the moment and made himself available for selection this weekend,” said Stubbins.
“But Nick Cowburn did a great job for us and has grown a lot since being with the first team.
“We’ve not decided on the starting eleven at this point in time.”
One player who made a strong case for a starting spot with a sound performance against the Wanderers scoring the equalising goal is new South Korean signing Lee Ki-je.
Stubbins was full of praise for the 23-year-old and suggests he’s only going to get better and better with each game.
“He had a long layoff before coming to the club but he’s caught up to the group very quickly”, he said.
“He’s a natural athlete and genetically he’s a very good specimen.
“He’s infiltrated into the group in a very good way and we’re hoping he can continue on from his performance last week.”
Newcastle Jets squad vs. Wellington Phoenix: 1. Jess VANSTRATTAN (Gk), 2. Scott NEVILLE, 3. Taylor REGAN, 5. Ben KANTAROVSKI, 8. Zenon CARAVELLA, 10. Travis COOPER, 11. Andrew HOOLE, 12. Sam GALLAGHER, 13. Edson MONTANO, 16. Jacob PEPPER, 18. Allan WELSH, 19. Mitch COOPER, 20. Ben KENNEDY (Gk), 21. Daniel MULLEN, 22. LEE Ki-je, 26. Nick COWBURN, 27. Radovan PAVICEVIC, 28. Braedyn CROWLEY *two to be omitted*
Ins: 2. Scott NEVILLE (returns from injury), 10. Travis COOPER (promoted)
Unavailable: 15. Joshua BARRESI (knee – season), 17. James VIRGILI (ankle – 7 weeks)
Match: Wellington Phoenix vs. Newcastle Jets – Hyundai A-League 2014/15 Round 18
Venue: Hutt Recreational Ground, Lower Hutt, New Zealand
Kick-off: 5:00pm (local), 3:00pm (AEDT)
Television: Live on FOX SPORTS 505
Radio: Live on ABC Grandstand & 1233 ABC Newcastle
Twitter: Join the match conversation using #WELvNEW #NTUA