WORK IN PROGRESS: Newcastle Jets’ marquee midfielder Ronny Vargas will line-up in his third game back from a broken and dislocated ankle against Melbourne City at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers RONNY Vargas had tongues wagging almost from his first touch for the Newcastle Jets.
The Venezuelan international provided an assist and looked every bit the marquee the Jets had craved.
Then disaster struck. Vargas suffered a broken and dislocated left ankle after he and Brisbane captain Matt McKay competed for the ball at Suncorp Stadium in round three.
It was initially feared the No.10’s season was over.
On Sunday, Vargaswill line up for his third game back when the Jets host Melbourne City.
– Ernie MerrickTweetFacebook Ronny VargasPictures: Max Mason-Hubers, Jonathan Carroll, Marina Neil, Simone De Peak, AAP“Ronny didn’t have the quality of players around him, he would normally have against Adelaide,” Merrick said. “With Roy and Dimi back that will improve this week. Ronny is getting fitter and he still produces those moments. He is a bit special. He will figure in every game as long as his fitness stands up.”
The Jets are locked in second place, home grand-final qualifier assured, and Merrick intends to usegames against City, Perth (home) and Central Coast (away) to fine tune the squad.
“It doesn’t matter, win lose or draw, we are still in the semi-final,” he said. “I am going to use these three games to make sure we are playing our best football and everyone is super fit.”
City (37 points) are in a dog fight with cross-town rivals Victory (35) for third spot and are coming off a 3-0 win over Wanderers.
The Jets loss to Adelaide was their first in seven games.
Petratos, who arrived back on Thursday from Socceroos duty in London, and O’Donovan (suspension) return to leadan attack that struggled against the Reds.
Ben Kantarovski dropsto the heart of defence for LachyJackson, with Nick Cowburn getting an opportunity in the centre of the park.
In the other change, Ivan Vujica replaces Jason Hoffman (suspension) and slots in at left back.
But the biggest lift Merrick is after is in energy.
“There was no energy against Adelaide,” Merrick said.“We got the GPS results from the game against Phoenix. We played really bad football but we played with energy and we won 1-0.We showed them a graph of their work rate collectively. Then we showed them the work rate and energy against Adelaide and it was way below average.”