Merrick demands more from recovering Jets star Vargas

Newcastle Jets boss Ernie Merrick has challenged Ronald Vargas to step up his training in order to be fit for the Hyundai A-League Finals Series.

Venezuela international Vargas hasn't featured since breaking his ankle against Brisbane Roar in October.

The 31-year-old will miss this weekend's rematch with John Aloisi's men but should come into contention for the final five rounds of the regular season.

"Ronny is training hard but not hard enough. He and I are going to have a little chat about that," Merrick said.

"He's way off the Sydney FC game after the Roar game the way he's going.

"But he's feeling good. I would just like him to increase his level of training to get back sooner because he would be quite special to use in the finals."

Ronald Vargas
Vargas has undergone a long rehabilitation.

Vargas could be joined on the sideline by Pato Rodriguez after the winger reported to training with a calf complaint, while Ben Kantarovski will be held back for the trip to Brisbane on Saturday night.

The Suncorp Stadium clash is another chance for Newcastle to trim Sydney FC's lead, but Merrick insists the only focus is to secure a top-four spot.

"The premiers plate is sewn up by Sydney and they deserve it," he said.

"It's about how we play each week to prepare for when we are in the finals.

"There's no doubt if we are in the top four we'll have a better chance of doing well in the finals.

"We've still only lost four games in 20 matches and hopefully we don't lose any more moving into the finals so we go in with some momentum."

Newcastle Jets