Second Spot Up For Grabs

Image courtesy of The Daily Telegraph/Gregg Porteous
Shinji Ono will lead the Wanderers' midfield. Image courtesy of The Daily Telegraph/Gregg Porteous

Newcastle starts life without key defender, Scott Neville, when it hosts grand-finalist Western Sydney in Round 10 of the A-League at Hunter Stadium on Saturday night . Neville has been ruled out for the rest of the season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in the first half of last Sunday’s 2-1 upset over Melbourne Victory. The 24-year-old is expected to have surgery in the next couple of weeks.

While the Jets are high flying, the Wanderers' premiership campaign has stalled after a 3-1 loss to competition leader Brisbane Roar. That was Western Sydney’s first defeat of the season and since then, it has meekly shared the points with cellar-dwellers Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne Heart.

In a battle for second place on the ladder, these two teams boast plenty of firepower. Newcastle attacker, Nathan Burns, is brimming with confidence after his brace in the shock win over Victory, while in round 7 Adam Taggart netted a double at a slippery Hunter Stadium as the boys from the ‘steel city’ upset Roar. Added to that, marquee player, Emile Heskey, is gradually finding touch with more game time and is always dangerous up front.

With a potent midfield boasting the likes of Shinji Ono, Youssouf Hersi and Aaron Mooy, there’s no panic at Wanderland, especially from coach Tony Popovic. The club has been buoyed by the midweek re-signing of forward Labinot Haliti for another two seasons. Haliti averages a goal every three matches.

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