The Newcastle Jets sit three points clear of the W-League wooden spoon with just two games left to play, but with an all-important battle against current cellar-dwellers Adelaide still on the horizon, are the Hunter’s leading ladies in the clear yet?
It’s been nearly three weeks since the Jets last put boots on grass in the W-League. A disappointing loss to Perth Glory at home was followed by a vital 2–0 victory over the Reds marked their last two outings. Since then, a bye stalled their season’s end.
For the Jets, there’s just one goal left in their 2019-20 campaign: avoid the wooden spoon, and make sure the season doesn’t end at the bottom of the W-League table.
That goal has been handed a boost mid-week, after Nicki Flannery got the tick to re-join the gameday squad. The 20-year-old forward missed the past two matches for the Jets after an injury in mid-January against City in Melbourne.
Unfortunately, Clare Wheeler has been ruled out of the squad after her ankle injury against the Reds last time Newcastle took to the pitch, meaning another player will have to step into the midfield star’s place on Sunday.
Caretaker coach Ash Wilson had initially believed Wheeler may be available ahead of the Victory duel this weekend, but a late check-in in training this week has confirmed the 22-year-old still has a ways to go before she’s back.
“She sprained her ankle and tried to play on but she was having a lot of difficulty in sprinting and pushing off,” Wilson said. “She decided it wasn’t going to be beneficial for her to be on the field and after assessment, it was probably the best call.”
Ash Wilson has suggested Sophie Nenadovic could be one such option for the ladies in red and blue, after she returns to the extended squad as well.
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With a few injuries, Wilson also admitted she would be looking at the youngsters of the squad again, including Paige Kingston-Hogg and Lauren Allan.
“Paige did really well [against Perth] and Loz had a full game and scored the goal. They’ve been training well so it’s important to be able to reward that. Paige coming on and being a starting player this week, I think she stepped up,” Wilson said.
“Renee again did well last match with the pass – the goal assist – and she’s trained well and she’s quite a good technical player. For her to come on in the manner she did with Clare going out early and to work her way into the game, some finish.
“It’s always hard as a coach to pick the 15 that are going to come away because when people are training well it comes down to who’s done all right in games as well, who’s doing well at training and sometimes what do I need as a coach,” the Jets caretaker boss admitted. “I’m happy with how all of the young ones are coming along.”
“They are keen to finish strong,” Wilson added. “It’s not too hard to motivate them.”
Newcastle Jets matchday squad: Hannah Brewer, Cassidy Davis, Gema Simon, Sophie Nenadovic, Tara Andrews, Libby Copus-Brown, Pana Petratos, Tessa Tamplin, Lauren Allan, Renee Poutney, Jenna Kingsley, Nicki Flannery, Claire Coelho (GK), Teigan Collister, Nicole Simonsen (GK), Paige Kingston-Hogg.