The Jets have a great chance to push towards the finals when they take on bottom-of-the-table Sydney FC this evening.
The Hunter club, who have dropped their last two matches, are currently sitting eighth on the A-League table, five points behind sixth-placed Melbourne Heart.
A win here would make things a lot easier as they will then be two points out of the final six but with three games in hand. The fact they take on a side who have lost five in a row makes this task very attainable.
The bad news is they will be without guest player Francis Jeffers, whose stint with the club is officially over after succumbing to a groin strain. Coach Branko Culina will be hoping a clearance comes for Ryan Griffiths, who has signed with the club, but is yet to gain eligibility to play from the Chinese Super League.
His presence would offset the loss of Jeffers and make things more dangerous in attack.
In the Sydney camp, things are at rock-bottom as the reigning champions have failed to score in five matches and have conceded nine in that time, consigning them to outright bottom and with an enormous job ahead of them.
The arrival of prolific Finnish striker Juho Makela could be the answer to Vitezslav Lavicka's goalscoring woes but you cannot rely too heavily on a brand new player who is only new to Australian football.
Because of that, the stingy Jets defence led by Ljubo Milicevic and Nikolai Topor-Stanley, should be able to get back to their clean-sheet keeping ways and record a much-needed victory over a hapless Sydney outfit.
Verdict: Jets 1-0
Newcastle Jets vs. Sydney FCDate: Monday, 3 January 2010 Venue: EnergyAustralia Stadium, Newcastle Local kick-off: 5:00pm Referee: Matthew Gillett Head-to-Head: All matches (played 18): Newcastle Jets wins 3, Sydney FC wins 10 (5 draws) Match fact:Newcastle Jets midfielder Tarek Elrich is set to make his 100th Australian national league appearance. Elrich made two appearances for Sydney Olympic in the NSL before joining Newcastle Jets in 2005.
Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1, FS1 HD & Sky Sport 2 (NZ). Hyundai A-League club broadcast partner is 1233 ABC Newcastle and SBS 6 Digital (Sydney). To purchase tickets visit www.proticket.com.au
Newcastle Jets squad: 1. Ben KENNEDY (gk), 2. Taylor REGAN, 3. Adam D'APUZZO, 4. Nikolai TOPOR STANLEY, 5. Ljubo MILICEVIC, 7. Kasey WEHRMAN (c), 10. Ruben ZADKOVICH, 11. Tarek ELRICH, 12. Jobe WHEELHOUSE, 13. Sasho PETROVSKI, 14. Labinot HALITI, 17. Marcello FIORENTINI, 18. Marko JESIC, 19. Ali ABBAS, 22. Kaz PATAFTA, 26. James VIRGILI, 27. Tomislav MISURA, 31. Jacob PEPPER, 50.Jack DUNCAN *four to be omitted* In: Taylor REGAN, Kaz PATAFTA, James VIRGILI, Tomislav MISURA, Jacob PEPPER, Ryan GRIFFITHS (pending international clearance)
Out: Nil Unavailable: Neil YOUNG (illness - indefinite), Michael BRIDGES (knee - 6 weeks), Jeremy BROCKIE (broken foot - 6-8 weeks), Sean ROONEY (knee - season), Ben KANTAROVSKI (knee - season), Matthew NASH (groin - 2 weeks)
Sydney FC: 1. Liam REDDY (gk), 2. Sebastian RYALL, 3. Stephan KELLER, 5. Hayden FOXE, 6. Hirofumi MORIYASU, 7. Brendan GAN, 8. Stuart MUSIALIK, 9. Bruno CAZARINE, 11. Kofi DANNING, 12. Shannon COLE, 15. Terry MCFLYNN (c), 19. Mark BRIDGE, 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 21. Scott JAMIESON, 22. Sung-Hwan BYUN, 23, Rhyan GRANT, 24. Dimitri PETRATOS, #. Juho MAKELA *three to be omitted* In: Rhyan GRANT (returns from injury), Brendan GAN (promoted), Juho MAKELA (new signing) Out: Nil Unavailable: Alex BROSQUE (groin - 3 weeks), Terry ANTONIS (knee - 4 weeks)