Jets up despite form

Despite coming off four straight losses Newcastle coach Branko Culina said the Jets will head into Saturday night's sudden-death Hyundai A-League semi-final against the Gold Coast full of confidence.

Despite coming off four straight losses Newcastle coach Branko Culina said the Jets will head into Saturday night's sudden-death Hyundai A-League semi-final against the Gold Coast full of confidence.

Culina said too much shouldn't be read into the Jets recent form, particularly the losses to the Central Coast and Adelaide.

"We don't like losing but we were not overly concerned with the last couple of results," Culina said.

"Once we found out we wouldn't genuinely claim that fourth spot and a home final we were more focused on being ready for the finals, so we fielded a weakened team and we experimented a bit."

Former Iraqi international Ali Abbas was the most positive aspect of that experimenting and it is expected the talented 23-year-old will start in the do-or-die fixture.

"He is one who has stood out. You can judge a good player by one who performs when the rest of the team is not performing and Ali has put his hand up and performed."

"A lot of players can perform when the team is doing well and Ali has done that when the team is not performing well."

"The last four weeks has been disappointing result-wise but we are happy because we have identified some positives in those four weeks. So we are ready."

The Jets will still field an undermanned side with striker Michael Bridges, defensive midfielder Ben Kantarovski and goalkeeper Neil Young sidelined through injury but the side will welcome back Sean Rooney, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Jobe Wheelhouse, Korean import Jin-Hyung Song from injury and Labinot Haliti from suspension.

In addition Culina believes his side's finals experience will play a big role in the match.

"They might have better-known individuals but I think we're a better team when we're all available," Culina said.

"I also think that they don't have what we have; we've got Adam D'Apuzzo, Matty Thompson and Tarek Elrich, who have all played in a Championship winning team and in the finals."

"I don't think they have players who have been in that situation, so that will count for something when it comes to finals football."

The Jets head coach also said the weight of expectation will be solely on the Gold Coast so his side will be able to go into the match without any mental pressures.

"I don't think there are too many people out there that believe we can do it and that is fine. The pressure will be on the Gold Coast because everyone is expecting them to win. They are the favourites, although I'd like us to be the favourites," he said.

"But we certainly don't fear the Gold Coast. Two weeks ago we identified them as the team we'd like to play, because of travel and because we have a record of two wins and one loss. So the pressure is not on us and now we have got three or four players back we are looking forward to the game."

"We know that this is do-or-die. We know that there's no next week if we don't get the result. For that reason, with the players that we've got, I think you'll see a much improved performance."

"This is a proud club; this club has bounced back after being written off many times before. That's one of the things you can't buy. You can't buy character, you can't buy tradition and this club has got that. There are still a number of people here that have been here from pretty much day one and that's why we're confident."