Preview: Newcastle Jets v Wellington Phoenix

It would be no surprise if Newcastle and Wellington players are fairly well acquainted by now after all, this will be the third time these sides have played in the first 15 rounds.

Date: Sunday November 22 Kick-off: 5:00pm AEDT, 7:00pm (NZDT) Venue: EnergyAustralia Stadium TV and Radio: Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 2 and Sky Sports 1. To purchase tickets visit www.proticket.com.au

Head-to-head Played 8: Wins: Wellington 4, Newcastle 3, Draws: 1

Previous meeting Wellington Phoenix 3, Newcastle Jets 0, Westpac Stadium, Round 10, November 2009

Past five matches: Newcastle: Round 11: Newcastle Jets 1, Melbourne Victory 3, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 12: Newcastle Jets 2, Central Coast Mariners 1, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 13: Brisbane Roar 1, Newcastle Jets 1, Suncorp Stadium Round 10: Wellington Phoenix 3, Newcastle Jets 0, Westpac Stadium Round 14: Newcastle Jets 2, North Queensland 0, EnergyAustralia Stadium

Wellington: Round 11: North Queensland 1, Wellington Phoenix 1, Dairy Farmers Stadium Round 12: Wellington Phoenix 6, Gold Coast United 0, Westpac Stadium Round 13: Sydney FC 3, Wellington Phoenix 1, Sydney Football Stadium Round 10: Wellington Phoenix 3, Newcastle Jets 0, Westpac Stadium Round 14: Wellington Phoenix 1, Perth Glory 1, Westpac Stadium

Analysis: It would be no surprise if Newcastle and Wellington players are fairly well acquainted by now after all, this will be the third time these sides have played in the first 15 rounds. Indeed, it's only been just over two weeks since they last played each other in a 3-0 win to the Phoenix. That loss will still be hurting Newcastle, however, as it represented one of the club's lowest points this season, the Jets systematically torn apart by their New Zealand opponents in a result that could have been substantially worse. Whether Branko Culina can use it as motivation, though, remains to be seen.

Culina will certainly have his work cut out stemming the positive energy radiating from the Phoenix this week. Wellington may be sitting in sixth on the Hyundai A-League table but it features seven New Zealand internationals who helped their country qualify for its first World Cup since 1982, in a brave 1-0 win over Bahrain at Westpac Stadium last Saturday night. In many ways, this has been the biggest week for football in rugby-dominated New Zealand for nigh on 30 years and Phoenix/New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert will certainly be wanting to capitalise on the momentum through another win at EnergyAustralia Stadium this weekend.

Having drawn 1-1 with the Glory in its Round 14 clash, Herbert will certainly be hoping to develop some winning momentum for his side, which hasn't managed consecutive victories once this season, despite playing some very attractive football. The Phoenix will be bolstered by the knowledge they completed dominated Newcastle the last time they played in a postponed Round 10 fixture. Paul Ifill and Costa Barbarouses played absolute blinders and it would be no surprise to see youngster Barbarouses and Chris Greenacre start up front once again this week, seeing Ifill move to the right and Leo Bertos used off the bench for the third week in a row. Herbert's side will be weakened by a one-week suspension to midfielder Vince Lia, who's established a good partnership with Tim Brown, but the side will be boosted by Diego's return. Regular stopper Mark Paston is also back, having missed two matches with a hip injury ahead of playing for the All Whites and saving a penalty against Bahrain, relegating Reece Crowther to the bench.

The Jets though, will be focussing on the positives this week and one of those is that they beat Wellington 3-2 in the Round 1. More importantly, this is a vastly improved side from the undermanned squad well beaten a few weeks back. Fabio Vignaroli didn't play that night but is fit and firing for this game and is a vital creative influence in play for all his team-mates. The Phoenix defence will also be worried by an almost three-pronged Newcastle attacking set up of Labinot Haliti, Michael Bridges and Sean Rooney. The three attacking players all started in the club's 2-0 win over North Queensland last round and with no one omitted from the side so far, it would be a surprise to see Culina alter the winning formula.

Coming off a good result against the Fury, Culina will be keen to chalk up another win at home as the Jets remain in contention for a finals position due to the congested table. But with Herbert able to play attackers like Bertos, Adrian Caceres and Troy Hearfield off the bench, the Jets may lack the depth to avenge their Wellington loss.

Newcastle squad: 2. Angelo COSTANZO, 3. Adam D-APUZZO, 4. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 5. Ljubo MILICEVIC, 6. Ben KANTAROVSKI, 7. Jin-Hyung SONG, 8. Matt THOMPSON (c), 9. Sasho PETROVSKI, 10. Donny DE GROOT, 11. Tarek ELRICH, 12. Jobe WHEELHOUSE, 14. Michael BRIDGES, 15. Sean ROONEY, 16. Jason HOFFMAN, 17. Fabio VIGNAROLI, 20. Neil YOUNG (gk), 22. Kaz PATAFTA, 25. Labinot HALITI, 26. Ali ABBAS, 30. Dion SHAW (gk)

*five to be omitted*

In: Ben KANTAROVSKI (returns from international duty), Donny DE GROOT (promoted), Jason HOFFMAN (promoted), Kaz PATAFTA (promoted), Ali ABBAS (promoted)

Out: Nil

Unavailable: Ben KENNEDY (groin 1-2 weeks), Shaun ONTONG (Achilles - indefinite), Marko JESIC (knee - indefinite)

Wellington Phoenix squad: 1. Mark PASTON (gk), 2. Manny MUSCAT, 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 5. DIEGO, 6. Tim BROWN, 7. Leo BERTOS, 8. Paul IFILL, 9. Chris GREENACRE, 11. DANIEL, 13. Troy HEARFIELD, 14. Adrian CACERES, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 20. Reece CROWTHER (gk), 22. Andrew DURANTE (c), 23. Costa BARBAROUSES

In: Mark PASTON (gk) (returns from injury), DIEGO (promoted)

Out: Vince LIA (suspended - 1 week), Jonathan GOULD (gk) (short-term injury cover)

Unavailable: Jon McKAIN (quad - 2 weeks), Michael FERRANTE (ankle - 2 weeks)