Bridges builds belief

Newcastle coach Branko Culina has credited English striker Michael Bridges for helping build a culture of self-belief at the club that has coincided with a surge up the Hyundai A-League ladder.

Newcastle coach Branko Culina has credited English striker Michael Bridges for helping build a culture of self-belief at the club that has coincided with a surge up the Hyundai A-League ladder.

Since the arrival of Bridges, who is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury, the Jets have looked a far more positive side and have come from bottom of the ladder just over a month ago to be sitting in fourth spot after consecutive wins over Sydney, Adelaide and the Gold Coast in the past three weeks.

"Early on we probably missed some players on the park who could lead on the park by example and I think that started to show when Michael Bridges arrived - he was very good in the dressing room," Culina said.

"And that has carried on and when you start winning games there is no shortage of leaders."

"We have believed in each other all year it is just when the results are not going your way that you don't quite believe in yourself as you should and doubts creep in and before you know it you don't play the way you think you can, but as I said it has been a tremendous turnaround for the team."

"It is very pleasing and it is a credit to the players and everyone around the club who have pulled together to make sure it is all possible. And it just goes to show that when you work hard and believe in yourself and each to show just what is possible." Newcastle midfielder Jobe Wheelhouse echoed Culina's sentiments and indicated that playing with confidence can sometimes lead to some good luck on the field.

"I think there was always confidence in the team from the get-go and you just have to look at the players we have got that ooze confidence," Wheelhouse said.

"But early on the ball just wasn't dropping our way. Over the last few weeks we are still working hard for each other in the game and in training but things have started to go our way and I think we are executing better so that is probably the main thing."

Despite the recent good form Culina admitted that the club's depth will be tested in the run to finals especially with Bridges currently sidelined and the news that in-form marquee player Fabio Vignaroli is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury sustained in last Sunday's thrilling 3-2 win over the Gold Coast.

"It is a huge blow when you miss key players," he said. "Last week it was Michael Bridges, this week it is Fabio - where would Melbourne be without (Carlos) Hernandez and Archie Thompson?"

"Whilst it is disappointing we still have a lot of quality players."