Wellington Phoenix may be sitting bottom of the Hyundai A-League but utility Jason Hoffman insists the high-flying Jets won’t be taking the Kiwi outfit lightly on Saturday night.
Newcastle sit second on the ladder and will be chasing a club-record fifth straight victory at home when they welcome Wellington to McDonald Jones Stadium.
Phoenix, currently eight points adrift of the top six, head to the Hunter following a mini resurgence which has yielded a win (2-1 over Victory) and a draw (1-1 with Wanderers) over the past fortnight.
And it’s the upshot in form which makes Wellington a dangerous opponent, according to Hoffman.
“Look to be honest I don’t think the table resembles the football they’re playing,” Hoffman told reporters earlier this week.
“Especially the last few weeks. They’ve had some good results and they’ve been unlucky not to climb the table.
“So for us, that’s a tricky opponent for Saturday. We’ll give them all the respect they deserve.”
Wellington’s improved form has coincided with the addition of former Johnny Warren Medalist Nathan Burns and impressive Serbian midfielder Matija Ljujic.
And while admitting the hosts will need to be wary of the duo, Hoffman insists the Jets will look to dictate terms with their aggressive, attack-minded approach.
“Yeah definitely. They’ve made some quality signings. Not just Nathan Burns but also with Lujic as well, the Serbian midfielder,” Hoffman said.
“For us, they’re players we’ll have to take into account when it comes to how we prepare.
“But in saying that, the majority of our focus will be on how we want to play and that aggressive style that we’ve come to play so far this season.
“Hopefully that’s enough to go toe to toe and obviously get the points.”
Hoffman has played a variety of positions for the Jets this season due to injuries but has flourished in an attacking role in recent weeks, netting three goals in his past five matches.
The 31-year-old netted the only goal in Newcastle’s 1-0 win over Roar last weekend and admits he’s enjoying the ‘freedom’ of playing in the front third.
“I’m happy to play up front at the moment and I’m enjoying my football," he said.
“There’s plenty of good service. I think you can see that right from the get-go this season of how we want to play and it’s very aggressive in going forward.
“To be in that front third and take opportunities when they come is something that I’m enjoying at the moment.”