Preview: Jets roar into Brisbane

The Newcastle Jets head to Brisbane for Round 21 of the Hyundai A-League, taking on the Roar at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The fixture presents an interesting test for Ernie Merrick’s side, as the Roar look to claw their way into the competition’s top six.

The hosts come into the clash off the back of a win over the Victory, and a performance that saw them push Melbourne City all the way in Round 19.

The Jets will be aiming to further consolidate their position at the pointy end of the ladder, as they head into a testing month of football that features games against Sydney (H), Wellington (A) and Adelaide (A).

Jets’ boss, Ernie Merrick said both he and his players were relishing the challenge heading into the regular season’s latter stages.

“The Roar will be up for this one, and we’re expecting a tough, physical contest,” said Merrick.

“They’ve welcomed back some players from injury (since Round 16), just as we have – it’s going to be a really high quality game.”

The Jets will be without Pato Rodriguez – who has been ruled out with a calf strain – which is expected to sideline the Argentine for at least the next month.

It’s expected that Rodriguez will be replaced by Riley McGree, and Merrick is looking forward to seeing what impact the young midfielder can have in the middle of the park.

“Riley is an exciting player, he’s got speed, he likes to get forward and he works really hard off the ball,” added Merrick.

“The way he’s been able to combine with Andrew (Nabbout), Roy (O’Donovan) and Dimi (Petratos) so quickly has been really impressive.”

On the subject on the Irish marksman’s return from injury, Merrick said O’Donovan was beginning to find his rhythm once more.

“I think Roy’s performance last week was an indication of how well he’s coming along,” said Merrick.

“His energy on and off the ball and the timing of his runs was great, he played big minutes and his work-rate in training this week has been first class – it’s great to have him back at full fitness.”

Midfielder Ben Kantarovski remains unavailable this weekend due to a hamstring complaint, but is a chance to return against Sydney FC.

Ivan Vujica has also rejoined the match day squad after recovering from a severe bout of tonsillitis.

By the numbers:

  • Newcastle have won four of their last five games against Brisbane (L1), including their last two meetings, and will be looking to win three games against them in a single season for just the second time in A- League history (2014).
  • Ernie Merrick has won seven of his last 11 games at Suncorp Stadium, including each of his last two by a score of 2-1 on each occasion.
  • The Jets have lost only one of their last five games played outside New South Wales (W3, D1), with four of those five games ending in a 2-1 score line.
  • Dimi Petratos has now been directly involved in a goal (scored or assisted) in four of his last five appearances for the Jets; he’s been involved in four goals in his last three games, scoring twice and claiming two assists.
  • Ben Kantarovski has scored three goals from inside the penalty area this season; doing so from only seven touches in the opposition box.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Brisbane Roar FC v Newcastle Jets

Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Kick-Off: 4:35 PM (Local) (5:35 PM AEDT)

Referee: Stephen Lucas

TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 501 from 7pm (AEDT) and delayed coverage on Sky Sport 1 (New Zealand)

Radio Broadcast: ABC News on Radio, Grandstand Digital, Online & via the ABC Listen App – A-League Live.

Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #BRIvNEW

Newcastle Jets squad: 1.Jack DUNCAN (gk), 3.Jason HOFFMAN, 4.Nigel BOOGAARD (c), 6.Steven UGARKOVIC, 7.Dimitri PETRATOS, 9.Roy O’DONOVAN, 10.Wayne BROWN, 13.Ivan VUJICA, 14.Riley MCGREE, 15.Andrew NABBOUT, 16.Nick COWBURN, 17.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 18.Johnny KOUTROUMBIS, 20.Glen MOSS (gk), 22.Lachlan JACKSON, 24.Joseph CHAMPNESS, 32.Angus THURGATE, 44.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 13.Ivan VUJICA (returns from illness),18.Johnny KOUTROUMBIS (promoted), 32.Angus THURGATE (promoted)

Outs: 11.Patricio RODRIGUEZ (calf – 5 weeks)

Unavailable: 8.Ronald VARGAS (ankle – indefinite)

Brisbane Roar FC squad: 4.Daniel BOWLES, 5.Corey BROWN, 6.Avram PAPADOPOULOS, 7.Thomas KRISTENSEN, 9.Massimo MACCARONE, 10.Brett HOLMAN, 11.Corey GAMEIRO, 13.Jade NORTH, 14.Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH, 17.Matt MCKAY (c), 19.Jack HINGERT, 20.Shannon BRADY, 21.Jamie YOUNG (gk), 22.Eric BAUTHEAC, 31.Brendan WHITE (gk), 33.Henrique SILVA, 36.Daniel LECK, 77.Ivan FRANJIC 

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 5.Corey BROWN (promoted), 33.Henrique SILVA (new signing), 36.Daniel LECK (promoted)

Outs: 2.Dane INGHAM (not selected)

Unavailable: 1.Michael THEO (gk) (finger – TBC), 3.Luke DEVERE (knee – TBC), 16.Mitchell OXBORROW (foot – 1-2 weeks), 18.Joe CALETTI (ankle – 2 weeks), 24.Connor O’TOOLE (foot – 1 week), 26.Nick D’AGOSTINO (ankle – 2-4 weeks)