Another week, another tough away trip. This time, it’s down to Geelong to face Melbourne Victory.
The fact that the side, currently third in the Hyundai A-League, are away from their natural homes of AAMI Park and Marvel Stadium may play a role but it’s not one which the Jets will want to depend on this weekend.
Form is good in the lead-up to this clash for Newcastle, who have lost just one of their last six in the league – two of their last eight in all competitions.
SQUAD: Ernie's men for Saturday
It’s a run which has helped narrow the gap to the top six, with just five points separating Newcastle in seventh from Wellington in fifth.
Last weekend was something of a missed opportunity, the scoreless stalemate with Adelaide, but it was a point gained all the same.
This weekend it’s, of course, the Victory who will be without defender, Georg Niedermier who was sent off in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Melbourne City.
In fact, Melbourne are winless in their last three with draws with Wellington and City, plus defeat to Perth Glory.
There’s some good news on the injury front, with Johnny Koutroumbis in full training this weekend after missing out against Adelaide.
Could he come back into the side? Ivan Vujica played well against Adelaide, but Koutroumbis has been preferred when fit this season.
Vujica is one player who will have been boosted by his week – he and Joey Champness spent a few days in Canberra with an Australia youth side, which Clayton Zane said has invigorated the pair.
Still sidelined is Ronny Vargas, who is back on light duties but isn’t expected back for another two games just yet.
Rotation in the midfield has been a centrepiece of Ernie Merrick’s selections so far this season, so could Nick Cowburn or Steven Ugarkovic potentially come into the starting XI?
From the assistant
“Games are running out quick smart, so for us, we can’t waste any more chances,” Clayton Zane said.
“We’ve got seven more big matches coming our way, and Victory are one of those top teams that we love to play against, with their all-out attack. Their fans expect it, they’ve a very similar mentality to us.
“Victory want to be a top two team, they’re an established club that demands finals and Champions League. On the flip side, we’re trying to build and try to establish ourselves as regulars in that top six.
“We can still do that, there’s enough games left and there’s enough points left. We’re hot on the heels of a couple of teams.
“It was a funny game, the Adelaide game. You could see both teams had to win the game, or at least get something out of it, and we both took a point. In the second half, the game really opened up, and I think you really seen a different team from us in that second half.”