Exciting young talent Joe Champness could start for Newcastle Jets with injuries likely to force coach Ernie Merrick into a reshuffle for his side’s clash with Wellington Phoenix.
Already without marquee Ronald Vargas to a long-term ankle injury, Newcastle were dealt another setback with fullback Daniel Georgievski suffering a hamstring strain in their 1-1 draw with Wanderers.
The former Victory defender is expected to be sidelined for four weeks.
In a further blow, in-form midfielder Ben Kantarovski is in doubt for Saturday night’s fixture with the Phoenix due to a leg complaint.
Kantarovski suffered a heavy hit to his thigh in Sunday’s clash with Western Sydney and is racing the clock to be fit for his side’s third home game of the season.
Merrick confirmed that Kantarovski is a ’50-50’ chance to play and admitted his loss would be a blow after the 25-year-old’s strong start to the season.
“I thought at the weekend Ben was really strong towards the end of that game [against Wanderers]," Merrick told reporters.
“We got a lot of good shooting chances because of the defensive work of the two centre-backs and Ben Kantarovski.
“He played on despite having a pretty bad cork so he’s a pretty tough character. He’s having a very good year.
“I’m hopeful he’s available but if not we’ve got Nick [Cowburn] and Lachie Jackson. There’s a number of players that can come in.”
Jason Hoffman will start at fullback for the injured Georgievski while Wayne Brown is likely to slot into the defensive midfield role should Kantarovski be ruled out.
With Brown moving centrally, exciting winger Joe Champness could be in line for his first start after an impressive cameo off the bench last weekend against the Wanderers.
“We need people up front who want to score goals. Joe has demonstrated every time he comes on he’s pretty confident in his ability.
“He wants to score goals and he gets in the right areas to do that.
“It’s something we’re looking at closely [to start]."