It might be week two of the finals, but it is not too late for Newcastle Jets to have turned a corner, according to striker Roy O’Donovan.
The Jets ended the 2017-18 A-League regular season with an 8-2 F3 Derby demolition of Central Coast Mariners, the ideal end to a hugely successful campaign.
The Jets were abled to cool their heels on that result having lost their previous three by margins of 5-2, 2-0 and 3-0.
The eight-goal rout is ideal preparation for their crunch semi-final against Melbourne City, which is arguably the club’s biggest match in a decade.
Tickets are selling strongly for the Friday night contest at McDonald Jones Stadium too, with some 3,000 tickets already sold to the public.
— Lawrie McKinna (@LawrieMcKinna) April 24, 2018
The past fortnight could scarcely have transpired any better for the Jets after hitting turbulence at the end of the season.
O’Donovan, who netted a double in the Mariners thumping, believes the match was a turning point in the second-placed team’s campaign.
“The Mariners game was a turning point I felt … I’m looking forward to us against Melbourne City, giving it our all and giving a better account of ourselves than we did last time,” he said.
However, the Irishman stressed against entering the match in a “cocky” frame of mind, urging his teammates to remain grounded.
“This is football, it’s a sport, it’s 11 men against 11 men, we all have two arms and legs,” O’Donovan added.
“Nobody in football is unbeatable and certainly no one in this league is so you take every game on its merits and you don’t get too carried away and too cocky.
“We won’t be. It’ll be a difficult game and we’ll be giving it our all and hopefully our all is good enough.”
The Jets will be boosted further by the returns of Nigel Boogaard and Ronald Vargas, previously, at least in part, thought of as unthinkable.
Captain Boogaard was set to miss the rest of the season having limped off against Sydney FC with a knee injury.
But the centre-back has since made a speedy recovery and Merrick confirmed he as well as Vargas will play a part in the matchday squad.
“They did really well, so they will definitely be part of the squad and I would suspect they would play some part in the game,” he explained.
“The only one out is Kantarovski, but Ronny’s looking good, Nigel’s looking very good.
“This is their second week of fairly hard training now. That was the hardest session they’ve had to do … we’ll ease off and just taper for Friday night.”
There was however no guarantee that either player would start the match, still with key decisions to be made before Friday night.
“This game’s about competitiveness … it’s about who’s the most competitive, who’s keener to make it into the starting XI and that shows up in training in their attitude and sticking to the game plan, and doing their job both offensively and defensively.”