JETS coach Ernie Merrick does not expect inspirational skipper Nigel Boogaard to returnfor the A-League finals.
CARD TROUBLE: Daniel Georgievski will sit out the clash against Perth Glory at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday night after receiving his eighth booking of the season against Melbourne City. Picture: Darren Pateman (AAP)
Nor does he believe the Jets’ championship hopes hinge on the presence of the experienced centreback.
“If everything comes down to one player, that doesn’t say much for the rest of the team,” Merrick said after the 3-0 loss to Melbourne City on Sunday.“Nigel is unlikely for the finals. He is working very hard, which is typical of Nigel. I’m not so worried about the two centreback roles.”
– Ernie Merrick
Boogaard fractured his tibia in the final stages of the Jets’ stirring 2-1 triumph over Sydney FC a month ago. The initial diagnosis was 10 weeks.
In his absence, the Jets have lacked the same steel and organisation at the back.
They were fortunate to beat Wellington 1-0 and have since leaked eight goals in consecutive defeats to Adelaide and City.
Lachy Jackson and Nikolai Topor-Stanley failed to jell at the back against Phoenix and Adelaide, prompting Merrick to drop midfelder Ben Kantarovski into the heart of defence against City.
“I think Ben and Nikolai did well centrally,” Merrick said after the game. “There wasn’t a great deal that came through the middle. It was more on the wing. Daniel Arzani caused us problems in the first half. We sorted that out for the second half.”
The three goals the Jets conceded were from set-pieces, where they missed Boogaard’s aerial strength and organisation.
“Every time we looked like we would get a run on – we had some good patches of play – we would concede a corner kick and concede a goal,” Merrick said. “The freekick was ridiculous. The wall opened up and Dario Vidosic shot straight through it.I wasn’t overly disappointed by the performance but the set plays were disgraceful.”
Merrick will be forced to make at least one change to the backline for the visit by Perth on Friday after right back Daniel Georgievski picked up his eighth yellow card for the campaign.
Jason Hoffman, who returns from suspension, will come in as a straight swap.
Defensive midfielder Wayne Brown is due back from a calf injury and could also come into contention for a start.
At the other end, Merrick is confident Roy O’Donovan will be better for his first game back from suspension.
“A few boys are getting back into the swing of things,” Merrick said.
They will face a Glory outfit playing for survival.
The Western ns sit in eighthplace on 29 points, three behind sixth placed Brisbane, who they host in the final round.The Roar are away to seventh-placed Wanderers (30 points) this week.