Pepper getting settled in midfield role


Newcastle Jets midfielder Jacob Pepper says he is growing increasingly comfortable in the middle of the park ahead of Saturday’s clash with Perth Glory at nib Stadium.

Pepper has played every minute of the Jets opening three matches and is beginning to feel more settled in his central midfield role after spending the majority of last Hyundai A-League season playing as a fullback.

“Obviously the results haven’t gone our way as a team, but on a personal level it has been a fairly good start to the season, just being able to get some game time early on,” Pepper said.

“Before the season started, it was my goal to start a few games so to have already done that gives me confidence and hopefully I can build on that for rest of the year.

“I found myself in the midfield for a couple of games during the pre-season and I can do a job in there for the team, so hopefully I can cement my spot.”

Due to the resurfacing of the Hunter Stadium pitch that is currently taking place, the Jets have been required to play their opening four games of the season on the road, but Pepper said the side would not be using fatigue from travel as an excuse come Saturday.

“We had a tough pre-season, all the boys trained hard and we were focused on preparing for these four trips away to start the season,” Pepper said.

“I don’t think we can use fatigue as an excuse, we just need focus on each game as it comes and do the best job that we can regardless of the circumstances.

“We’re only three rounds into the season, but at the same time we’ve only got one point.

“We’d like to get a few more on the board this weekend, before we play at home against another good side in Melbourne Victory.”

Pepper believes there is no reason why the Jets can’t break their so-called Perth hoodoo when they take on the Perth Glory at nib Stadium on Saturday.

Pepper said changes to the Jets’ playing squad and coaching staff during the offseason means Newcastle aren’t carrying the same baggage of previous results in Perth, which has seen them winless at nib Stadium since 2005.

“It’s a different side to the last couple of years, we’ve got a new coach and some new players, so there’s no reason why it can’t be a different result to what it has been,” Pepper said.

“As a team we’ve just got to find a way to grind out a result, because three points is very important for us this weekend.”