Regan set for call-up

Taylor Regan looks likely to replace the suspended Ruben Zadkovich in the only change for the Newcastle Jets heading into their crucial Hyundai A-League clash with Gold Coast United at Hunter Stadium on Friday night.

Taylor Regan looks likely to replace the suspended Ruben Zadkovich in the only change for the Newcastle Jets heading into their crucial Hyundai A-League clash with Gold Coast United at Hunter Stadium on Friday night.

Zadkovich is serving a one-match ban after picking up his eighth yellow card of the season in last week's 3-1 win over the Melbourne Victory, leaving the Jets with the dilemma of who to bring in at right back.

Jets assistant coach Craig Deans said at training this week that Regan was one of a few possibilities to slot in for Zadkovich alongside Newcastle's National Youth League right-back Andrew Hoole and centre-back Connor Chapman.

Another option would be to move Tarek Elrich, who had played in the position before being moved to a more forward role, back into right back, which would allow Jeremy Brockie to come back into the starting line-up.

"There are a few options. Tarek can go back in there, Taylor Regan played there in the second half against Adelaide and did a good job, so we have to have a look at that," Deans said.

"Tarek has performed quite well in the front third so it would be nice to be able to keep him there."

"It is a tough one because it is a supposedly easy game but you don't want to take anything for granted - Tarek and Taylor have a bit of experience there. Young Hooley (Andrew Hoole) and Connor (Chapman) would be more than comfortable."

"Hooley is probably closest in a like-for-like way but it is a big ask for a young kid to come in at this time of the year while Taylor, even though he is only 22, has got enough experience to cope with that."

Another option would be to move in-form midfielder Jacob Pepper into the defensive role, bring Jobe Wheelhouse into a more defensive midfield position and bring in Ali Abbas, Labinot Haliti or Brockie to play as an attacking midfielder.

However, Deans said they are hesitant to tinker with a stable line-up that has proven its championship-winning qualities over the past few games.

"We have even spoken about Pepper going there but he is doing such a good job in the midfield and he gives us some legs in there as well, so it is a balancing act between taking away from one area to strengthen another," Deans said.

"So it is just a matter of how much of a risk we want to take in that position."

"Ruben has been doing really well in the last four or five games. It is a big area for us, the fullbacks are important to the way we play so we will have a good look at it."

"The Gold Coast have a young team and with a young team comes a lot of speed with players like Halloran, Harold and Mebrahtu they are all very quick and they are good with the ball as well."

"But it is a nice problem to have, we have been scoring goals and we haven't really conceded a lot of goals in the past five or six weeks so all the areas are starting to function well so it is a nice situation to be in when you have to think really hard about who to put into a position."

Meanwhile, Pepper has been rewarded with a call-up to the Qantas Australian U-23s side for their dead rubber clash with Iraq at Bluetongue Stadium next Wednesday night.

It is the 19-year-old's first international cap and it fulfils a lifetime goal for him as a footballer.

However, the young midfielder stressed that he was not getting carried away with the selection and his meteoric rise through the ranks.

"It was a bit of surprise ... but I'm pretty grateful and hopefully I can have a good game," he said.

"In this team (the Jets), just being one of the young boys, you have a few duties to do and that helps you keep a cool head and keep doing what you have to do to get better."