Best of the Press: Rudan reveals Ninkovic heir who ‘can do some damage’

We take a look at the weekend matches in the Isuzu UTE A-League. wraps up all the pre-weekend media activity across the Isuzu UTE A-League as John Aloisi is given a big boost over strike options and Robbie Stanton talks up ‘top three’ side Melbourne Victory.

Rudan talks up youngsters as ‘proud westie’ prepares to face former club

Western Sydney Head Coach Marko Rudan may have cut a frustrated figure after their opening round draw with Wellington Phoenix but he believes the current crop of young players at the club should have fans excited.

Chief among those to shine in the goalless draw with the ‘Nix was 21-year-old midfielder Nicolas Milanovic, with the local lad set to feature again this weekend against his former club Western United.

“He’s a Western Sydney Wanderer and he’s a proud Western Sydney boy,” remarked Rudan. “I always knew there was something in him, that’s why I brought him when I was at Western United and I brought him now to this club. He’s a proud westie.

“He just needs to keep building and keep his feet planted firmly on the ground, not worry about the external noise. If he continues to be the best he can be every day and improve then he’ll go okay.”

Veteran midfielder Milos Ninkovic is still touch-and-go with regards to his inclusion in this weekend’s matchday squad as he recovers from injury, with Rudan admitting the side missed the Serb’s “touches, guile and quality in tight areas.”

However should Ninkovic not make the squad, Rudan has backed 18-year-old Alex Badolato as the man to help fill the void.

“His understudy as I call him, ‘Rocky’ Badolato got some minutes,” said Rudan. “He’s the one that I believe can do some damage but he needs to work and understand the minutes that he gets. He needs to make an impact with those minutes.”

Young Gun is good to go as Western target back-to-back wins

Meanwhile, Western United coach John Aloisi has revealed striker Noah Botic is fit and ready to go ahead of this weekend’s game.

The 21-year-old cooly slotted home the winner from the spot in the dying stages of their opening round win against Melbourne City but then appeared to be struggling with a hamstring injury.

However, Aloisi played down any fears of injury for his hot prospect, who has now bagged seven goals in his last twelve outings.

“No concerns, his hamstring is fine it was just a bit of cramp which a few boys had,” said Aloisi. “It was the first real competitive game since the cup game, it was normal they would be fatiguing towards the end.”

In more good news for Western United, Aloisi also revealed off-season recruit Nikita Rukavytsya is closing in on a first appearance for the club.

“He’s going along really well,” said Aloisi of his 36-year-old striker. “If he’s not involved this week, which we’re not 100% sure yet, then he’ll definitely be involved next week because he’s looking good.”

Western Sydney Wanderers v Western United
Saturday, October 28 2023
CommBank Stadium
Kick-off: 7:45pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: Paramount+, 10 Bold

‘Nix boss promises ‘very aggressive’ display ahead of Distance Derby

Wellington Phoenix Head Coach Giancarlo Italiano says fans can expect to see a more proactive approach from his side during this weekend’s game with Perth Glory.

Despite putting in a resilient defensive display, the ‘Nix were unable to click going forward, mustering just one shot on target during their goalless draw with the Wanderers in Round One.

“There’s a couple of things we’re going to tinker with for this weekend,” said Italiano. “We feel that being the home team as well we’re going to take the initiative in this game and we’re going to be very, very aggressive.”

Another change Italiano will have to make this weekend will be at the heart of his defence, after confirming defender Finn Surman will be out for at least a month after picking up a hamstring injury.

Stajcic won’t dwell on dropped points in Round One

Perth Glory boss Alen Stajcic says there’s ‘nothing to address’ when it comes to reviewing last weekend’s agonising draw with Newcastle.

Glory were on course for an opening round win over the Jets before Apostolos Stamatelopoulous’ 91st minute equaliser saw them share the points at HBF Park.

Goalkeeper Oli Sail drew criticism for his part in the equalising goal but his manager says both he and the side have moved on.

“Those things happen in football, nobody wants them to happen,’ said Stajcic. “I tend to overlook things like that and look more at the performance.

“For me we showed significant improvement from half to half. For us to be able to go into that game with one A-League friendly under our belt…that gives me even more confidence going into this week.”

Perth arrived in Wellington earlier this week in order to acclimatise ahead of the game as they look to end a run of seven games without a win against the ‘Nix.

Wellington Phoenix v Perth Glory
Saturday, October 28 2023
Sky Stadium
Kick-off: 3:30pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: Paramount+

Jets ready to test themselves against ‘top three’ Melbourne Victory

Newcastle Jets boss Robbie Stanton is relishing the chance to take on Melbourne Victory this weekend, a side he believes will be challenging for honours come the end of the season.

Victory opened their Isuzu UTE A-League campaign with an impressive 2-0 win away at Sydney FC, with Stanton admitting he’s looking forward to testing himself against Tony Popovic.

“They’re a top three team, 100%,” said Stanton. “Tony is a very good coach, he’s won Premierships, Champions League. I’m happy to play teams like that, it’s a game that’s going to be exciting for us.”

“We have to be at our best and then we have to expose them at their weak points. I’m excited by that because people haven’t given us much of a chance.”

The Jets kicked off their season with a hard-fought point away to Perth Glory and will be aiming to make it back-to-back wins over Victory for the first time since 2015.

Melbourne Victory v Newcastle Jets
Sunday, October 29 2023
Kick-off: 5:00pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: Paramount+