A refreshed Newcastle Jets hit the training track on Monday eager to put their best foot forward in the race for a place in the Hyundai A-League Finals Series.
Newcastle enjoyed the weekend off due to the split round, with the players given a chance to rejuvenate ahead of the last five rounds of the regular season.
The Jets will play Melbourne City - whom they defeated 2-1 in their last meeting back in round 17 in Coffs Harbour - at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
Captain Nigel Boogaard spoke with local media shortly after the conclusion of Monday’s session, and said that the squad had returned “switched on”.
“We obviously had the weekend off (from matches) with the split round,” Boogaard said.
“I think a few boys have felt the impact of consecutive games, so it was good for them to be able to regenerate.
“Everyone was firing (and) although today was slightly lighter because it was the first day back you could see that there was a real push there, a real competitiveness and a real desire to make sure that everybody is ready for the game.
“For us it (the split round) was about refreshing not only physically but mentally and making sure that we really come back this week switched on, ready to go down there and do a job.
“We need to make sure that we give these last five games a really good crack (and) hopefully by the end of it we can look back and we are in the six and we have done something special this year,” he said.
Keeping the likes of Tim Cahill, Bruno Fornaroli and Nicolas Colazo quiet is no easy task, however as a unit the Jets managed to frustrate what is ordinarily one of the Hyundai A-League’s most formidable frontlines.
Boogaard knows the same desperation, commitment and execution will be required on Saturday evening.
“There was a desperation from individuals defensively, but also a willingness to go forward and try and score,” he said. “We were clinical when we did get opportunities.”
“We know we can play even better than that and I think we have proven that in other games. We are confident that if we go down there and execute our game plan than we’ll come away with a result.
“We know what’s at stake. We know that it’s important for us to make the six this year and everyone is pushing in the same direction.”