Newcastle fans will welcome an old rival, Sydney FC, to McDonald Jones Stadium this weekend in the final regular season match of 2018/19.
It’s the first time the Jets have finished the regular season at home since 2013/14 – that match ended 2-0 over Adelaide, a result which Newcastle fans would be equally pleased with this weekend.
If recent form is anything to go off, then Newcastle fans may be quietly confident of a positive result on Saturday afternoon.
Two wins in the past three matches – a 3-2 win over the Western Sydney Wanderers and 6-1 over Brisbane Roar – have the Jets coming along nicely into the end of the season.
A busy travel schedule for Sydney FC could work in the Jets favour – they played out a 2-2 draw in Shanghai on Tuesday night.
With second place and a week off locked in for the Sky Blues, could Steve Corica look to rotate his troops on Saturday?
On Thursday, Ernie Merrick named his 18-man squad for the clash and there’s every chance the starting XI could remain consistent.
Angus Thurgate impressed against the Roar last weekend and may get another opportunity to stake his claim for a consistent spot in that XI come next season.
Another player who has come into his own at the backend of the season is Ivan Vujica, who has seen minutes in the past four matches and could make it five on Saturday.
At the front end of the park, Joey Champness and Roy O’Donovan will be keen to impress following their braces against the Roar last Saturday night.
Included in the 18-man squad is Ronny Vargas, who may also return to the side after missing out against Brisbane.
From the captain
“It’s a great opportunity for us to go out on a high and show our fans the quality we’ve got,” captain, Nigel Boogaard said on Friday morning.
“Last week, some of the younger boys got a run and I think that showed the strength of the squad that we’re going to have next year which we’ll look to build on again this weekend against Sydney.
“We have to prove that we’ve still got the quality, yeah we didn’t perform as well as we wanted to this year and that’s what we need to go off in the off-season and analyse.
“It’s a hard one to swallow, but it’d be nice to go out there and prove a point against Sydney. They’re the second best side in the league and we want to prove that on our day, we can beat anyone.
“Hopefully we get a decent crowd and we can put on a good performance for them.”