The Newcastle Jets will take on league leaders Melbourne City on Thursday evening and Coach Craig Deans is urging his team to remain focused for the full 90 minutes.
Coming off a disappointing defeat to Western United, Deans is challenging his side to step up and compete with Melbourne City’s intensity.
“You want to test yourself against the best,” Deans said.
“We have to be prepared for a tough game.
“The rewards of performing well in that game are huge for us.”
The Jets grinded out a win over Melbourne City earlier in the season, however, Deans is only concentrating on the task ahead.
“We’ve worked on things in training,” Deans said.
“One of them is keeping the ball better and that we’re difficult to break down.
“We have a game plan for City.”
Roy O’Donovan will miss the game due to suspension which opens the door for younger players to step in and show their quality in the attacking third.
The Irish striker is the Jets’ leading goal scorer and has been leading the line this season.
“We lose a lot of leadership with Roy gone,” Deans said.
“Apostolos Stamatelopoulos has been wanting to play as a nine and this is his first chance to start there.
“Stamatelopoulos is a similar player to Roy, but this is his opportunity to show to everyone that he is good enough to play there.”
Connor O’Toole could miss the City game because of a hip concern he picked up during the 2-0 defeat to Western United.
The Club has flown Lucas Mauragis down to Melbourne to provide Deans with some defensive cover.
“We flew Lucas down this afternoon,” Deans said.
“Lucas will be here for cover.
“Whether he comes into the starting side we’ll have a chat about that.”