Preview: Knocking off the Reds to edge closer


At this point of the season and the Hyundai A-League ladder the way it is, every match is a crucial one.

Three points this weekend though, could be some of the most important so far this season, as it could potentially bring the Jets to within three points of sixth place, and five points from fourth.

The form guide, barring Tuesday night’s AFC Champions League defeat to Kashima Antlers, is fairly good reading for the Jets.

Five wins, a draw, and a loss in our last seven means the boys will be confident of a victory. What’s more, Newcastle haven’t lost in our last five games at home.

Roy O'Donovan Adelaide United

Adelaide United, Sunday afternoon’s opponents, are in similarly solid form with three wins in their last six matches. That’s despite a 3-1 loss to the Wanderers last Saturday.

A penalty helped the Reds pinch victory, 2-1, against us last time out at McDonald Jones Stadium just before the turn of the year.

Team news

There is fresh injury news for the Jets, with Ronny Vargas set to miss as many as four weeks with a hamstring injury.

His absence will force a reshuffle of the front four, but how will Ernie do it? Does Dimi Petratos move into the middle, does the boss elect for two up top, or is it something else entirely?

Johnny Koutroumbis is another one who is in some doubt, with a hamstring issue which the medical staff are looking to manage rather than risk at this point in the season.

After sitting out the trip to Japan, Jair will be fit and ready to impress once more after a man-of-the-match performance against Melbourne City last Friday night.

There’s likely to be some rotation in the midfield also, with Steven Ugarkovic having started all three of the Jets last three matches.

Johnny Koutroumbis Kashima Antlers

From the coach

“If we can take anything from a 4-1 loss [to Kashima] it is how to play football really well,” Ernie Merrick said.

“Kashima Antlers are a very good team and you can see why they won the ACL. Their ability to close down, create space, play short accurate passes, work off each other and transition into goal-scoring areas very quickly … we can take something out of the experience.

“It is good to have Jair who played an outstanding match against City. He will be ready to go… there is a good chance we will bring in another striker.

“We have been well prepared by Chris Smith from a physical perspective. Nathan Renwick has done a great job medically. It always comes down to mental toughness and if you can push yourself through the limits. I think we will be ready to go against Adelaide.”