Newcastle’s attacking crisis could cop another blow with marquee man Ronald Vargas battling a groin issue before Sunday’s A-League match against Brisbane.
Jets coach Ernie Merrick claimed three players were still struggling from the “carpark at Spotless Stadium” two weeks ago, including Brazilian import Jair.
It’s a crowded casualty ward that already houses Joey Champness (foot), Kaine Sheppard (foot) and Mitch Austin (fitness).
Roy O’Donovan still has matches to serve from his grand final suspension, leaving Merrick with few options to take on the Roar at home.
“[I’m] not sure about Ronnie. I tried Ronnie in a high striker role and it was very tough for him,” Merrick told reporters on Tuesday.
“I don’t want to have to play him there again. I’d rather have someone else available in that high position.”
Merrick bemoaned his lack of goal scoring options and is reluctant to throw in youngsters Kosta Petratos or Angus Thurgate.
“We’ve had four strikers out,” he said. “They’re more than strikers, they’re goal scorers.
“I don’t want to have to bring in another inexperienced player like Angus or Kosta.
“We really need someone that’s prepared to play in a high position and be well supported by high players that can get in behind as well.”
While aware that the season is only six rounds old, Merrick admitted his side must turn around their fortunes quickly after their hapless 3-0 defeat to Melbourne City.
He said the Jets defence is just as much to blame as their attack.
“We’re short of strikers but that wasn’t our main problem on the weekend,” he said.
“There was a lack of urgency defending and an inability to really pressurise the opposition.
“The point is we’ve got change our application in defence.
“And we’ve got to do that now.”