Battered Jets still aim for win
Newcastle coach Branko Culina has assured fans that the Jets will be aiming for a win against the Gold Coast on Wednesday night despite his troops being exhausted from Sunday’s gritty victory over Melbourne.
Newcastle coach Branko Culina has assured fans that the Jets will be aiming for a win against the Gold Coast on Wednesday night despite his troops being exhausted from Sunday-s gritty victory over Melbourne.
A 10-man Newcastle outfit battle gamely in oppressive conditions to claim a morale-boosting 3-2 win over the defending Hyundai A-League champion last weekend, and despite being battle weary, Culina said his side was looking to earn another three points in Wednesday night's fixture at Skilled Stadium.
"When you set a certain standard you've got to maintain it. Our motto is that we can now go into every game knowing we can win, so why would you accept anything else?" he said.
"But it was very warm on Sunday and it took a fair bit out of the players."
"A few of the players have some knocks which is a bit of a concern. Sean Rooney is one of those he has a very tight calf, possibly a tear, and Jobe (Wheelhouse) has a bit of an ongoing problem as does (Labinot) Haliti, so it is going to test us."
Culina said he would be careful to rotate his players with another important fixture against the Roar in Brisbane this weekend followed by a home clash against Sydney a week later.
"We have got to be careful because I can't see too many of the players being able to play all three games," he said.
"And then we have got Sydney the week after so we have one eye cast on that as well, so it is a juggling act for us and we have to be careful how we do it."
One of Newcastle's key players will be English important Michael Bridges. The experienced striker returned from a month on the sideline to play the first 45 minutes of last week's clash against Melbourne, pocketing a crucial goal on the stroke of half-time.
Culina underlined Bridges' importance to the Jets and stipulated he would not be too hasty to over-use the 31-year-old this week.
"We have to be careful with him (Bridges)," Culina said.
"We had a similar situation last time, he played extremely well against Sydney FC and then the following game against Adelaide he came off after just eight minutes, so it is going to be touch and go whether he plays on Wednesday."
"We will wait and see but I expect he will be one of the players who does not feature in all three games."
The fourth-placed Jets can draw level with the Gold Coast on the Hyundai A-League ladder with a win on Wednesday night.
United, on the other hand, will be desperate to stop Newcastle registering a hat-trick of wins over the new franchise after the Queensland team suffered its first ever Hyundai A-League loss to the Jets in August which was followed up by a 3-2 defeat in December, both games being played in Newcastle.