‘He’s becoming a pain for me’: Thurgate’s form gives Merrick selection headache

Newcastle Jets boss Ernie Merrick has a selection dilemma on his hands after Angus Thurgate’s second match-winning performance in as many games has rendered the young forward virtually undroppable.

Locked in a goalless tussle with Western Sydney Wanderers at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday night, Merrick called on Thurgate from the bench with half an hour to play, and the move earned his side maximum points.

Thurgate’s direct, electric playing style was too much for the Wanderers defence to handle as the 19-year-old scored one goal and assisted another, sealing the win for his side.

And as Merrick revealed post-game, his performances are becoming too good to be ignored.

“He’s becoming a pain for me, because I’m under pressure whether to start him next week or not,” Merrick told FOX Sports.

“The good thing about Angus is he’s very coachable. Angus is full of running... he’s so easy to work with.

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“I thought we needed a change up front; Angus Thurgate was that change and he did what he’s been doing at training and what he did last week.”

Thurgate’s biggest threat is his ability to pierce the defensive lines with his speed; it’s what garnered his match-winning goal against Western United two weeks ago.

After scoring from close range against the Wanderers, he showed a hot pair of heels once again to set up Petratos’ second goal and the Jets’ sealer.

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Thurgate times his run to set up Petratos sealer

It’s a facet of his game Thurgate knows how to exploit as he continues to leave defenders in his dust.

“Ernie’s instructions were for me to get in behind and make those little runs like last [match],” Thurgate told FOX Sports.

“That was Ernie’s message, the first couple of runs I made I felt like I was quicker than their backline, so I just kept making those runs and it paid off.

“I was lucky enough to get in the right position and score myself the goal.”

Thurgate’s cameo from the bench may have had the experts and fans alike questioning why Merrick didn’t deploy the young speedster from the start.

But with Panamanian import Arroyo ahead of him in the pecking order for now, Thurgate says he’s happy to bide his time and contribute in whatever way he can when Merrick requires his services.

“I guess that’s just part of football,” Thurgate said.

“Our marquee striker came back from international duty, he’s obviously got the right to play.

“I was just waiting to get my opportunity to come on and make an impact and luckily I could do that tonight.”

Western Sydney Wanderers go across the ditch to play Wellington Phoenix in their Round 9 clash at Eden Park, Auckland, at 5pm AEDT on Saturday, 7 December.
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Newcastle Jets play away at Adelaide United on Sunday, 8 December in Round 9. The match at Coopers Stadium kicks off at 6pm AEDT.
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SUNDAY PREVIEW: Western United v Sydney FC
SUNDAY PREVIEW: Adelaide United v Wellington Phoenix