Newcastle captain Nigel Boogaard believes the Jets can build on Friday’s improved showing against Adelaide United by testing the table-topping Western Sydney Wanderers on Christmas Eve.
Boogaard returned to Scott Miller’s starting line up last Friday having missed the club’s previous three matches due to an ankle injury.
The central defender helped the Jets secure their third clean sheet of the season against the Reds, which will have gone some way to restoring the defensive belief that the team had been building throughout its campaign until its round 10 slip-up against Melbourne City.
“It was a positive performance,” the experienced stopper said of the Adelaide game.
“Collectively we went out there with a game plan and executed it to a degree. After the week before I think the boys turned it around.”
“Securing a clean sheet is obviously positive, and something that we really want to instil in the group, being defensively strong as a unit.”
“Of course we have to take more opportunities going forward, [but] we kept possession well on the weekend and created a number of chances --- it’s good to know that we are getting those chances.”
“Wanderers will be a massive challenge for us but we can really go down there and take it to them. If we go down there with the right mentality then we can come away with a result,” he said.
Regular Jets starters Jason Hoffman and Ben Kantarovski will be absent from Thursday evening’s line up due to suspension --- both players picked up their fifth yellow cards of the campaign against Guillermo Amor’s outfit. While Boogaard would naturally prefer to have both Hoffman and Kantarovski available, he’s also confident that whomever Miller selects to enter the side can do a job for the team in the club’s pre-Christmas clash.
“It will be disappointing to miss those two boys this week,” Boogaard said. “They are both integral parts of what we’re doing and ‘Hoff’ [Hoffman] played well again the other night and has done well this season, and ‘Kanta’ [Kantarovski] has been very versatile, he’s shown his quality all around the park.”
“We’re going to miss them but it’s going to give opportunities to others, and I think it was also pleasing that there were a couple of young boys out there for us on the weekend --- ‘Cowby’ [Nicholas Cowburn], [Ryan] Kitto and ‘Lachy’ [Lachlan Jackson] did very well for us.”
“There are opportunities for boys to come in and prove themselves and the gaffer is confident that whoever is going to come in is going to do the job.”
“If we implement our game plan that the coaching staff set for us then we are confident that we can beat anyone,” he said.