Wheelhouse ready to fill the void

Jobe Wheelhouse says he is ready to return to the Jets starting line-up if called upon for Saturday’s match against Wellington.

Hunter Ports Newcastle Jets captain Jobe Wheelhouse says he is ready to make his return to the Jets starting line-up if called upon for Saturday-s match against Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium.

Wheelhouse appears to be the logical replacement for midfielder Ruben Zadkovich who will serve a one-game suspension after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season.

Wheelhouse missed five matches after injuring his knee in early December, but has since recovered to make two appearances off the bench in the last two weeks.

The 27-year-old said he is ready to play extended minutes if required against the Phoenix.

“The knee is feeling quite good, but the fitness is probably not where it should be, but I-ve been out for about six weeks,” Wheelhouse said.

“I-ve been back with the team now for a few weeks and Ruben being suspended gives me a chance to come in and show the coach what I-ve got.

“The boys have being doing really well in my absence, so I-ve had to wait for my time, but this week I-ll get my opportunity.

“I-ll try and do the best I can for the team, as I always have.”

Newcastle have not won in Wellington since 2007, but Wheelhouse said the Jets- recent run of results has the side feeling confident that they can break that hoodoo this weekend.

“It-s a tough trip, we haven-t done well there in the past, but we-re on a good roll,” he said.

“We-ve had three games without a loss and three games with a clean sheet.

“Even though in the front third we haven-t been scoring the goals we like, I-ve said before that defence wins championships, not attack, so if we keep those clean sheets then I-m sure the goals will come.”

Wheelhouse said the Jets would have to be wary of a Wellington side who will no doubt be eager to bounce back after being thumped 7-1 by Sydney FC last round.

“I think they-ve had maybe four or five losses in a row, so we don-t want to be that team that kick-starts their charge into the finals,” Wheelhouse said.

“We-re in good enough nick to go there and get a result, I have no doubt about that, but we-re also under no illusions that they-re a good side.

“They-re our bogey side, they-ve always done well against us, so we need to be switched on from the start.

“It-s been well documented that we-ve gone there and haven-t been able to get a result, so that-s a big challenge for us.

“We-ve been defending really well as a unit in the last month or so and we-ll go there trying to do the same thing.”