Glory v Jets: Everything you need to know
COACH Phil Stubbins has challenged the Jets to prove that the capitulation against Wellington was an aberration and complete a horror road stretch on a positive note.
CHALLENGE: Marcos Flores holds off the Phoenix’s Albert Riera. Picture: Getty Images
And he has made a host of personnel and positional changes to achieve that goal.
The Jets take on a resurgent Perth Glory at nib Stadium on Saturday.
The battle with their bogey side is their fourth straight away game. They open their home campaign against Melbourne Victory on a new surface at Hunter Stadium next Saturday.
The journey west follows an embarrassing 4-1 loss to Wellington Phoenix in the New Zealand capital.
By the time the Jets return from Perth, they will have travelled 11,712 kilometres and across eight time zones in 11 days.
Marcos Flores and Scott Neville, who have had three games back from knee reconstructions, were left out of the squad. Jonny Steele (corked calf) also stayed at home.
‘‘With Scotty and Marcos, trying to back up after nine months out, it is a difficult situation physically,’’ Stubbins said on Friday.
‘‘We are safeguarding with an eye to what we have down the track, but we are certainly focused on this week.
‘‘Melbourne Victory went to Perth midweek and had [players sustain] two hamstrings and a groin injury and two red cards. We have had to go from Wellington, then over to Perth.
‘‘Fatigue is a factor. You have to monitor that.
‘‘The team changed based on training this morning.’’
As well as the absence of Flores and Neville, Stubbins will rotate the squad.
Ben Kantarovski returns from knee surgery and is likely to partner Zenon Caravella in midfield.
Jacob Pepper is expected to cover for Neville at right back and Taylor Regan is set to come in alongside Kew Jaliens, with Sam Gallagher shifting out to left fullback.
Joel Griffiths, David Carney and Andrew Hoole were also used in new roles at training on Friday.
‘‘We want to put out the healthiest squad we can,’’ Stubbins said. ‘‘Kanta has trained solidly. The last two weeks he has been involved in every session and has trained very well.’’
After an encouraging opening fortnight in which the Jets battled hard with little reward in a 1-0 loss to the Mariners and a 1-1 draw with Melbourne City, they were torn to shreds by a rampant Phoenix who hit hard and often on the break.
‘‘Against Wellington, it was not any build-up play from them,’’ Stubbins said.
‘‘It was our mistakes or decision making which cost us. They have some fleet-of-foot players there that caught us out. We got caught with our pants down a little bit.
‘‘There have been a few things we have identified and worked on at training, but at the end of the day we made too many individual mistakes.
‘‘You tend to get these games now and again.
‘‘We will change the game plan slightly, but we still want to play football.’’
Perth sit in fifth place on six points after wins over Wellington (2-1) and Brisbane (3-2) and a 2-0 loss to Adelaide.
They bounced back from the defeat with a 4-2 win in extra time over the Victory in the FFA Cup on Tuesday night.
Their bright start is in contrast to the lame finish to last season in which they lost eight of the final 11 games to drop to eighth, eight points adrift of the seventh-placed Jets.
Irish import Andy Keogh has been the key to Glory’s success, scoring four goals in three games, including a hat-trick against the Roar.
‘‘I was talking to our CEO about someone stepping up and being a hero,’’ Stubbins said. ‘‘In Perth it is Andy Keogh who has been front and centre in that department.’’
Keogh leads a strike force that has created more chances from corners and had more headers on goal than any team.
It is an area where the Jets have struggled defensively.
Keeper Mark Birighitti has not been strong coming for crosses and others have been outmuscled or out of position.
‘‘We spoke about that prior to training and combating that,’’ Stubbins said.
‘‘Perth have that strength there and have scored a couple of goals, including a winner against Brisbane in the last minute. We are mindful of it, and I have every confidence that we can go over there and do the business.’’
Also working against the Jets is a horror record in Perth, where their lone win was nine years ago.
More alarming is a string of seven straight losses.
‘‘Records are there to be broken,’’ Stubbins said. ‘‘I don’t look much into what has happened in the past. That is what it is; it is in the past.
‘‘Perth are certainly flying at the moment. Unless we are on our mettle we will have a difficult encounter.
‘‘It is an opportunity for us to challenge the resolve of the group.’’