The Newcastle Jets will host Perth Glory this Sunday in what’s shaping as a crucial Round 8 clash in the Hyundai A-League.
Currently undefeated from their opening seven matches, the Glory will arrive at McDonald Jones Stadium full of confidence under new manager, Tony Popovic.
Much has been spoken about the Glory amidst the first seven rounds, but Ernie Merrick and his squad will be looking to take three points and cement themselves in the competition’s top six.
The Jets also enter the contest in good form, winning two of their last three including a 2-0 win over the Brisbane Roar last weekend.
It’s been a relatively undisturbed build up for Merrick this week, with Jason Hoffman the Club’s only injury concern as he recovers from a back injury.
The versatile attacker was a late scratching last weekend, making way for Kaine Sheppard to secure his first start in the Hyundai A-League.
The experienced Scotsman will have a few selection headaches on his hands this week, after impressive performances from both Sheppard and Jair. That will only be compounded by the return of Roy O’Donovan next week, a problem that Merrick well and truly welcomes.
A trio of the Jets younger brigade were in Canberra to start the week, with Ivan Vujica, Angus Thurgate and Johnny Koutroumbis all joining an Olyroos training camp with Graham Arnold.
All returned on Thursday and trained strongly, with Vujica and Koutroumbis both in the frame for selection in the match day squad.
From the coach:
“We are on a [winning] run of one. We need to win a few more before I start rubbing my hands together,” Merrick said.
“We’ve got two of the next three games at home, it is our chance to build up some momentum.
“When you are looking for goal-scorers and two players return after injury and score a goal, it is pretty tough to drop them.
“It will be an interesting selection this week, it’s the sort of problem I like to have.
“I think it [intensity of training] has something to do with the fact we won a game and there is a lot of players up for selection in the squad. Wherever I put Jason, he does a great job for us. He will definitely be in the mix this week. Whether he starts or not, I’m not sure. There won’t be too many changes.”