ARE YOU LOOKING FOR ME: Teenage attacker Mario Shabow is in line to make his starting debut for the Newcastle Jets against Melbourne City. Picture: Max Mason-HubersERNIE Merrick is confident his young guns will “do a job” but it is the Jets’ senior players who the coach expects to step up against Melbourne City at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday night.
The Jets’ depth faces another test after Wayne Brown (calf) and Jake Adelson (knee) stretchedthe club’s casualty wardto seven.
Brown is only likely to miss a week but the news could not be worse for Adelson, after scans confirmed the right back had ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in the youth team’s 1-all draw with Sydney FC. The 21-year-old now faces a third knee reconstruction.
Brown and Adelson join Ronny Vargas (ankle), Roy O’Donovan (groin), Jack Duncan (foot), Daniel Georgievski (knee) and Jason Hoffman (groin) on the list of injured players.Although Hoffman is a slight chance of being fit.
Coach looks to senior men to set Jets course TweetFacebook Jets trainingPictures: Max Mason-HubersThe more likely scenario is for teenager Mario Shabow to be promoted for his first start on the right wing and either Nick Cowburn or Johnny Koutroumbis to replace Georgievski at right back.
“It is certainly testing our depth which has been an ongoing thing during the past few weeks,” Merrick said.
“All the boys who have come into roles have done a very good job.At the beginning of pre-season training we made sure everyone was well aware of the roles and what wasexpected in attack and defence. There is nothing new to the boys, it is just getting used to the intensity and the pressure of first-team football. If you have more than two or three youngsters then the senior players really have to step up.”
Merrick said they would look to sign an injury replace for Adelson during the January transfer window, but for now thefocus was on City and continuing the Jets’ climb.
Newcastlesit in second place, four points above Saturday’s opponents, who have lost three straight and on Monday sacked assistant coach Michael Valkanis.
“Melbourne City are a wounded team and will be out to prove themselves,” Merrick said. “I think it will be a really tough match. I keep saying to our players that tough matches are the best ones at this stage of the season in preparing for the finals.”
Merrick expects Tim Cahill will be fully recovered from a taxing Socceroos campaign.
“Cahill will play some part and McCormack will play some part as well,” Merrick said.
“Although they have lost Osama Malik (suspended), they still have Neil Kilkenny, Luke Brattan and Stefan Mauk. It is a team rich in players.
“However, we are in great form as well. The other thing about City is that they play open football and have the type of players to play open football. It should be an end-to-end affair which really suits us.”
The Jets in conjunction with community partner,Greater Bank, hope to raise funds and awareness for charity CanTeen on Saturday. The club will give 1000 general admission tickets to fans who purchase a CanTeen bandanna for $5 at the Family Fun Fairto be held in the stadium’s western car park before kick-off.