THE Newcastle Jets are fresh from their biggest win of the season but coach Ernie Merrick insists he has not locked in a starting side for the home grand-final qualifier on Friday week.
A hamstring injury to Ben Kantarovski has opened at least one position for the clash against either Melbourne City, Melbourne Victory or Adelaide.
“It is unwritten, everyone is aware that there is always a starting position available,” Merrick said. “It depends how you play, how you train, how you perform each weekend. Senior players coming back sometimes have priority. Everyone knows that, I don’t have to state it. Hopefully there is lots of competition for places.”
Skipper Nigel Boogaard, who is recovering from fractured tibia, trained with the full squad on Tuesday, and along with Lachy Jackson heads the queue of likely replacements for Kantarovski.
“Nigel did OK today,” Merrick said.
Asked to rate Boogaard’s chances of playing on Friday week, Merrick said:
“He is 50-50. It depends on how he pulls up. He has pain there but he is just not admitting it. We will have an 11 v 11 intraclub game at the stadium on Friday, and the day after that, we will really know where he is at when we do some recovery.”
Merrick said the intensity at training had risen, despite the do-or-die final still being more than a week away.
“I think they have definitely lifted,” he said. “They should really enjoy these couple of weeks.”
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