Football 2 years ago

Jets no longer A-League's laughing stock

  • Jets no longer A-League's laughing stock

The Newcastle Jets are on a mission to prove they are no longer the A-League's "laughing stock", coach Scott Miller says.

And the next two weeks are the perfect opportunity with back-to-back home games, starting on Saturday against the Western Sydney Wanderers.

A win there, and another the following week against regional rivals Central Coast, would go a long way towards establishing Newcastle's credibility as an A-League title contender.

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"What we've achieved so far is good, but maximising the first six rounds with another six points would be an outstanding achievement," Miller said.

"Not only for the confidence of the group but our standpoint in Australian football, that we're here to compete at this level.

"We're no longer the laughing stock of the A-League."

Not that the Jets' rise from walkover wooden spooners last season to a strong, spirited and genuinely threatening side under Miller has taken anyone in Parramatta by surprise.

"I'm never surprised by anything in the A-League," said Wanderers captain Nikolai Topor-Stanley, himself a former Jets player.

Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic described Newcastle as a "sleeping giant" of the competition.

"People in Newcastle deserve to have a good team and they've had a fantastic start," he said.

But so too have the Wanderers - even if the ladder doesn't show it.

Last weekend's 1-0 win over Perth Glory was the reward for all the effort Popovic has demanded as the Wanderers slowly, but surely, get used to their new possession-based style.

"I've seen the progression from day one in pre-season," Popovic said.

"I think it's a matter of time until we give teams three or four goals and really put teams to the sword.

"We're dominating a lot with the ball. We just need to get the right scoreline."

Both sides are set to regain key players for the Hunter Stadium clash, with Romeo Castelen set to return for Western Sydney after a brief absence due to a hamstring strain.

The Jets will have playmaker Leonardo (knee) back on deck, although Miller didn't say if he would start or come off the bench.

But they've also lost defender Daniel Mullen, who hurt his knee at training during the week with youngster Lachlan Jackson set to start at centre-back.

STATS THAT MATTER

* Newcastle are unbeaten in their last five meetings with Western Sydney (W2 D3).

* However, they have never beaten WSW at home in the A-League (D2 L2).

* Jets defender Lee Ki-Je has scored in back-to-back encounters with the Wanderers - his only two goals in the A-League.

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