Western United will face off against Newcastle Jets for the second time in just over a month with an away trip to McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday.
Isuzu UTE A-League Men Round 18
Newcastle Jets vs Western United
Saturday, 25 February
Kick-off: 5:00pm AEDT
McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
Broadcast: The match will be broadcast live on Paramount+
John Aloisi has received a significant boost ahead of this fixture with two key defenders set to be welcomed back into contention.
Ben Garuccio is in line to make his first appearance since suffering a calf injury against Melbourne City in early January, while Josh Risdon is also set to return to the side having missed the last two matches.
Rhys Bozinovski has travelled to Uzbekistan with the Young Socceroos for the upcoming AFC U20 Asian Cup and will miss the next couple of matches for United.
Western United squad: 1. Jamie YOUNG (gk), 4. Leo LACROIX, 5. Dylan PIERIAS, 6. Tomoki IMAI, 7. Tongo DOUMBIA, 8. Lachie WALES, 9. Michael RUHS, 11. Connor PAIN, 14. James TROISI, 17. Ben GARUCCIO, 19. Josh RISDON, 21. Sebastian PASQUALI, 23. Alessandro DIAMANTI (c), 24. Connor O’TOOLE, 27. Jacob TRATT, 31. Adisu BAYEW, 37. Ryan SCOTT (gk) 38. Noah BOTIC, 88. Neil KILKENNY, 99. Aleksandar PRIJOVIC
Last time out
It was a difficult night for Western United last time out as the side fell to a 3-0 defeat against Wellington Phoenix at UTAS Stadium in Launceston.
Wellington took advantage of a slow start from the Green and Black to seize control of the contest, and United will be eager to bounce back against the Jets on Saturday.
Newcastle Jets have been one of Western United’s most favourable opponents throughout the Club’s four seasons in the Isuzu UTE A-League so far.
After failing to beat Newcastle in the first three meetings, United has since gone unbeaten against the Jets in the subsequent six matches in all competitions, winning four of those.
Each of the last two matches have ended in 1-1 draws, so the Green and Black will be eager to break through and take all three points this time around.
Key Matchup: Aleksandar Prijovic vs Beka Mikeltadze
Matches between Western United and Newcastle Jets have been traditionally low-scoring, with an average of 1.5 goals scored in the eight league meetings between the two sides.
With that in mind, it could turn into a battle of respective strikers as either team’s hitman seeks to give their team the advantage.
Aleksandar Prijovic and Beka Mikeltadze remain two of the most threatening forwards in the competition and will be eager to outshine the other in front of goal.
Prijovic netted his first Western United goal against the Jets in the Australia Cup and will hope to repeat that feat in the league this time around.
Player to Watch: Lachie Wales
Lachie Wales scored an outstanding goal the last time United met Newcastle, and the No.8 will be well-placed to show that form again in this return fixture.
The 25-year-old has found the net there times so far this season with two of those goals coming within the last six games.
Wales was also the goal scorer the last time United was victorious in Newcastle and Aloisi will be hoping his star man can continue that form and deliver a strong performance.
Words from John Aloisi
On the potential returns of both Ben Garuccio and Josh Risdon
“They’re back and available which is great for us. We’ve missed Ben Garuccio for a long period, and Josh has been out for the last few weeks.
“They’re two very important players for us, they’ve been important for a long period. They’re quality full-backs and they add a lot to us, not only defensively but also going forward.”
On the team needing to prove doubters wrong again
“What I’ve said to the players is that we have to prove everyone wrong again. We did that last season, everyone had a point to prove – me included.
“We’ve got that point to prove again now. We’re sitting in a position we don’t want to be in, everyone is writing us off, so let’s prove that point. Let’s make sure that we show everyone that we’re still capable of winning football games and being where we want to be.”