Key Jets attacker ruled out of do-or-die Phoenix clash

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Ronald Vargas has been ruled out of Newcastle Jets’ crucial A-League clash against the Wellington Phoenix on Saturday afternoon with a hamstring problem.

Coach Ernie Merrick spoke with the press and admitted he may have rushed Vargas back into action too early in the Jets’ 3-2 loss to the Central Coast Mariners.

“His hamstring’s not going to be ready. I probably brought him in too early,” Merrick said.

“It was my decision to bring him in early against the Mariners. But we needed to do it because we needed to change. When he did come on the pitch he scored a goal.”

The Jets are a better team with Ronny Vargas on the pitch, and the Mariners game was a prime example of this. When he came on off the bench, the whole team lifted and were almost able to overturn a three goal deficit.

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Merrick has another selection complication regarding Ivan Vujica, Joey Champness and Johnny Koutroumbis and their U23’s Olyroos commitments.

Each of the players have been involved in three games in quick succession, so the Jets need to be diligent and aware of the sharpness and fatigue of the three players when they return for Saturday’s clash in the A-League.

The Olyroos campaign has come under criticism because it disadvantages teams with younger players at such a crucial point in the season for a relatively unimportant international competition.

“I understand the role of the national coach and what he’s trying to achieve,” Merrick said.

“The teams that are developing young players are the hardest hit, so there’s something wrong with the system.”

Despite Vargas’ injury and the questionable fatigue of the returning Olyroos players, the Jets have a job to do against Wellington on Saturday.

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“There’s no second chances anymore. If we lose another game I think we would really struggle,” Merrick said.

The Jets are now five points off Adelaide United in sixth place. With only five A-League games remaining, it’s crunch time.

“It’s really about us winning at least three of the remaining five games. Maybe only losing one, getting a draw and seeing how things fall.

“We’re up for it and we’re still in with a chance.”

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Harry Keating
Harry Keating
Intern at The Football Sack covering The Newcastle Jets A-League and W-League home matches!

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