Injuries spoil Jets’ week

Injuries to striker Sean Rooney and key defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley have soured a great week of football for the Newcastle Jets after their 1-0 win over the Wellington Phoenix on Saturday night.

Injuries to striker Sean Rooney and key defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley have soured a great week of football for the Newcastle Jets after their 1-0 win over the Wellington Phoenix on Saturday night.

A clinically taken goal in the 55th minute to striker Marko Jesic handed the Jets their third result in seven days, adding to their impressive 3-1 win over Adelaide and 1-1 draw with the Roar to move up to seventh place on the Hyundai A-League table, and just three points behind Melbourne Victory in sixth place.

But both Rooney and Topor-Stanley hobbled off the pitch in the second half in Saturday night’s win over the Phoenix and the early prognosis is not positive.

“My heart would like to say ‘no’ but my head tells me that Sean (Rooney) will be out for the rest of the year – the first indications are that it might be (an ACL),” Jets coach Branko Culina said after the match.

“We will have to wait and see, but medical staff are not overly confident that it is a minor injury, but we will have to wait and see. He has had a terrible run.”

“And Nikolai we are not sure yet but even one week without him will be too much. He has been a fantastic leader, a fantastic player, and when a team is travelling as well as it is now you want all to have your very best players available. So I hope it is nothing serious.”

The Jets looked assured in their win over Wellington, creating a number of scoring opportunities and restricting the visitors to half-chances.

Two of their stars included youngster Taylor Regan, who played in the backline in place of Ljubo Milicevic and Italian import Marcello Fiorentini, who came in for the injured Ruben Zadkovich, and Culina admitted he would have to rely on the depth of his squad to maintain the team’s drive up the ladder.

“We had a number of warriors out there who fought like gladiators, but didn’t have much petrol left in the tank,” said Culina.

“Marcello (Fiorentini), who hasn’t played a great deal of football was on his last legs but I thought he had an excellent game.”

“I thought Taylor Regan was absolutely superb. He did not put a foot wrong all game. You would not think this is a kid playing in just his third game. He has such a level head and a good football career ahead.”

“You would have thought he had been playing 300 games. When Nikolai went off he took the responsibility of marshalling the troops. I thought he and Kasey (Wehrman) in front of him were excellent.”

“They have proven they can step up. We have Ruben and Ljubo to come back so that is good but the challenge is for these guys who have been playing all the games to keep going. We don’t have a great deal of depth so it is important that the key players continue to perform as they have over the last three games.”

Culina also assured Jets fans that star recruit Francis Jeffers was also nearing full match fitness but had been hampered by Newcastle’s recent punishing schedule. The former English international played 60 minutes in his first match against Adelaide, 67 minutes against Brisbane and lasted 74 minutes against the Phoenix.

“He (Jeffers) is going to get better and better but the guy has already been terrific for us,” Culina said.

“But the games have come to close for him and fatigue has caught up with him. He needs games spaced about each week, not every three days. He stayed on an extra 10 minutes more than he should have. But I thought he was excellent again.”

Culina stressed the importance of a win over the Phoenix.

“This was always the game that was going to require that (grinding it out). We talked about that before the game. We talked about the challenge that this game posed for us in comparison to our last two games,” Culina said.

“I think we were up for the other two games because we were playing the top two teams. This was the game that every expected us to win but it was always going to be tough with two quality players in Ljubo (Milicevic) and Ruben (Zadkovich) missing and also our third game in a short period of time.”

“But I thought the boys were terrific. And whilst probably not as brilliant as Wednesday and last Saturday I thought we were still very, very good and played some nice football.”