It’s been more than three months since the Jets have seen competitive football, but it’s back on Wednesday night as the boys head south for their first hurdle in the FFA Cup 2019.
For the second time in the Cup’s six-year history, we’ve drawn Melbourne Victory in the competition’s Round of 32 and will take on the navy blue down at AAMI Park.
The chance to go through to the competition’s Round of 16 for just the second time ever is a big carrot for the travelling Jets, who have two games of football under their belt so far this pre-season.
Results have been largely positive so far, with a 1-0 win over Edgeworth on 27 July followed by a come-from-behind 2-2 draw with Western Sydney Wanderers.
With more than two months standing between now and the beginning of the Hyundai A-League season, Wednesday shapes as an opportunity for Ernie Merrick side to continue building on a few new combinations and, hopefully, pick up a positive Cup result.
From a Melbourne Victory perspective, Wednesday night shapes as the first opportunity for their new boss, Marco Kurz to see his team in competitive action.
The former Adelaide manager is still in the process of building his squad for the upcoming season but will have two big-name recruits likely to take to the pitch – Australia internationals, Robbie Kruse and Andrew Nabbout.
Here's the 18-man squad in contention to travel and play in Melbourne on Wednesday night.
Newcastle Jets FC: 3.Jason HOFFMAN, 6.Steven UGARKOVIC, 9.Abdiel ARROYO, 10.Dimi PETRATOS, 11.Nick FITZGERALD, 14.Kaine SHEPPARD, 16.Matt MILLAR, 18.Johnny KOUTROUMBIS, 19.Kosta PETRATOS, 20.Lewis ITALIANO (gk), 22.Lachlan JACKSON, 23.Matt RIDENTON, 25.Jack SIMMONS, 26.Pat LANGLOIS, 30.Keegan HUGHES (gk), 31.Maki PETRATOS, 32.Angus THURGATE, 44.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY
There are three notable omissions from the squad heading to Melbourne: Glen Moss, Nigel Boogaard, and Ben Kantarovski are all set to miss out.
The former two are still building their way to full fitness, while Kantarovski picked up a slight knock at training on Saturday and isn’t being risked at this stage in the pre-season.
There are four new faces in line for their first appearances on a Newcastle Jets team sheet: Matt Millar, Nick Fitzgerald, Abdiel Arroyo, and Keegan Hughes.
Millar and Fitzgerald impressed in starts against Edgeworth, while Arroyo is set to feature from the bench as the Panamanian builds his fitness after beginning training last Friday.
16-year-old, Keegan Hughes will deputise for Lewis Italiano in the absence of Glen Moss (fitness) and Noah James (national team duties).
From the coach
"The squad numbers allow us to take 16 contracted players down, that's where we're at at the moment so it gives us an opportunity to give everyone some game time," assistant coach, Clayton Zane said.
"Against the Wanderers, we struggled a little bit with the press so we've had a look at that and how we can be more effective at playing through the midfield.
"Also, from a defensive point of view, we played against a back five and they tried to stretch us - but that being said, we don't expect Victory to play that way and our focus has been on Victory this week. We want to be a compact, hard-to-beat unit, but we also want to be a team that has a lot of possession.
"I thought that [Marco Kurz] did a great job in Adelaide at making them a very hard-to-beat team, they dropped deep and hit teams on the counter so I think it'll be interesting to see what happens at Victory. Their fans expect a team that controls games from start to finish, that has real attacking flair, so it'll be interesting to see how Marco goes about that.
"Abdiel [Arroyo] has ten days or so of training under his belt and he's shown some good signs [and] with him, it's understanding the system and the tactics that we're trying to employ.
"I would have thought 20 to 30 minutes maximum off the bench for him, we're all excited to see what he can do against decent opposition but in saying that, it's so early in pre-season that the demands and the expectations we're going to place on him will be controlled a little."
Who and What: Melbourne Victory v Newcastle Jets, FFA Cup 2019 Round of 32
When and Where: Wednesday 7 August, 7.30pm at AAMI Park
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