Returning Jets create selection dilemma

The infirmary at the Newcastle Jets is becoming something of a deserted place of late as the number of injured players at the club steadily decreases.

The infirmary at the Newcastle Jets is becoming something of a deserted place of late as the number of injured players at the club steadily decreases.

After making the knockout phase of the AFC Champions League (ACL) 2009, the Jets found themselves with a profusion of players suffering from significant injuries. However, since the commencement of the Hyundai A-League earlier this month, a number of the club-s wounded have returned to the training pitch.

And, as Head Coach Branko Culina explained today, after going unbeaten through the opening two rounds of the new season, the return of these players is creating some welcome headaches in terms of team selection ahead of his side-s trip to Western Australia to take on Perth Glory this Sunday.

“We do have the luxury of having Nikolai Topor-Stanley an extra week, he played for forty-five minutes (last week), Ben Kantarovski made up the numbers last week but he-s got another week under his belt. So that provides us with different options and we-ll wait until we get to Perth to make a final decision on that.”

“With Nikolai it-s just a matter of getting him fit and ready. He-s missed a fair chunk of the preparations as well as a few ACL games and he-s badly in need of match fitness and games, so we-re just trying to bide our time with him. But there comes a stage when you-ve got to make a call and whether it-s this week or the week after, the good news is that he-s available,” Culina said.

Kantarovski has, over the past few weeks, juggled his return from knee surgery with the commencement of his HSC Trials. The prodigious talent has trained with the team fully over the past fortnight, and no doubt Culina is thrilled to have the 17-year-old Novocastrian back on deck.

“Ben-s a very fine young player” Culina stated. “The question for Ben is is he ready? I think he-s missed about 8 weeks, no pre-season, no practice matches. So it-s a difficult one, but it-s getting to be a pleasant situation to be in.”

“So far (this season) we-ve been very fortunate to even get 14 players on the team sheet. Now you have got Ben back this week, then the following week you have got Kaz Patafta, probably Donny de Groot and Shaun Ontong. It-s a good position to be in and it just creates that situation where everyone is fighting for a spot in the team and the players push themselves to a new level because they all want to be a part of it.”

“As a coach it-s a good situation to be in as well because you-ve got different options for different games,” he said.

Topor-Stanley, a former Glory defender, will return to Perth for the first time since moving to Newcastle earlier this year, but he and his Jets teammates will be coming up against a new-look Glory outfit this season, sporting the likes of Qantas Socceroos- Jacob Burns, Chris Coyne and Mile Sterjovski.

Culina believes that after narrowly going down in their first two encounters of the season, despite having such talent within their ranks, Perth will be the team most likely to feel the pinch come game day.

“The fact that they lost their first two games with the quality squad that they have got, the expectation for them is quite high. They will be under enormous pressure to do well in this game and that is probably not a bad thing for us because the pressure will be on them and if they can-t handle it we will certainly be ready to pounce,” he said.

Match Details: Sunday, 23 August 2009 Perth Glory v Newcastle Jets Members Equity Stadium, Perth Local kick-off: 3.00pm (5.00pm AEST) Referee: Craig Zetter

Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 3. Hyundai A-League club broadcast partner is 6PR 882 AM (Perth). To purchase tickets visit www.ticketmaster.com.au

Perth Glory Squad: 1.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 4.Andy TODD, 6.Chris COYNE, 7.Jacob BURNS (c), 8.Victor SIKORA, 10.Wayne SRHOJ, 11.Branko JELIC, 12.Scott NEVILLE, 13.Scott BULLOCH, 14.Eugene DADI, 16.Adriano PELLEGRINO, 17.Todd HOWARTH, 19.Naum SEKULOVSKI, 20.Aleks VRTESKI (gk), 21.Mile STERJOVSKI, 23.Andrija JUKIC, 24.Matthew MAYORA * two to be omitted*

In: 13.Scott BULLOCH (return from injury), 14.Eugene DADI (promoted)

Out: Nil

Unavailable: Jamie COYNE (knee - 3 weeks), Jimmy DOWNEY (knee - 5 weeks), Jamie HARNWELL (hamstring - 1 week), Anthony SKORICH (hip - 6 weeks)

Newcastle Jets squad: 1.Ben KENNEDY (gk), 2. Angelo COSTANZO, 3. Adam D-APUZZO, 4. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 5. Ljubo MILICEVIC, 6. Ben KANTAROVSKI, 7. Jin-Hyung SONG, 8. Matt THOMPSON (c), 9. Sasho PETROVSKI, 11. Tarek ELRICH, 15. Sean ROONEY, 16. Jason HOFFMAN, 17. Fabio VIGNAROLI, 19. Jason NAIDOVSKI, 20. Neil YOUNG (gk), 24. Chris TRIANTIS *One to be omitted*

In: Ben KANTAROVSKI

Out: Nil

Unavailable: 10. Donny DE GROOT (knee - indefinite), 12. Jobe WHEELHOUSE (ankle - 4 weeks), 13. Shaun ONTONG (groin - 1 week), 18. Marko JESIC (knee - indefinite), 22. Kaz PATAFTA (back - indefinite)

*Head-to-Head: Played 12; Perth Glory FC 5, Newcastle Jets FC 3, Drawn 4