SOCCEROOS hopeful Dimi Petratos believes the return of striker Roy O’Donovan can have a “massive impact” as the Jets look to rediscover their goal-scoring touch.
O’Donovan is free to return on Sunday against Central Coast at Gosford in round nine after serving a 10-match ban for his high-foot on Melbourne Victory goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas in last season’s grand final.
The comeback will be a welcomed boost for the Jets, who have scored just seven goals in eight games to have the second-worst attacking record in the A-League.
Petratos was keen to have O’Donovan, who scored nine goals in 16 games last season, back up front.
“He’ll be a massive impact for us, we’ve seen what he can do and I think he’s one of the best strikers in the league,” Petratos said. “I think he’s pretty hungry to come back so he's going to give it his all. He’s been out for a while. It’s just an extra boost, I think, for the whole team to have a very experienced striker who we know can score a lot of goals.”
Petratos has even more reason to be excited.
Despite the Jets’ poor start in front of goals, Petratos leads the league in chances created with 23, is second in crosses with 60 and is equal top in assists on three.
The 26-year-old was Newcastle’s best player last season and broke into the Socceroos.
An unused member of the World Cup squad, Petratos has not featured since despite attending a training camp before the past two friendlies against South Korea and Lebanon. He is considered an outside chance to make Graham Arnold’s 23-man Asian Cup squad to be announced on Thursday.
“I feel good,” he said. “It’s just up to the coach now to pick me. I’ve just got to continue to do what I do with my club and if it comes around and I get selected to go, of course I’ll be very happy.”
If he does miss out initially, Petratos will no doubt remain in contention as a replacement leading up the UAE tournament, which starts on January 6 against Jordan. He was hoping O’Donovan’s return could help lift his game.
“I think I’ve got a very good connection with him,” he said. “When I have the ball he knows, depending on which foot, where to make the run, so myself and other players can feed him in.”
Asked if he believed his form was as good as last season, Petratos said: “It’s always better when the team’s doing well, and you get more hype that way as well, but of course I’ve always got to assess my games and try and improve, but I think I’m still doing well.”
Petratos and O’Donovan were a popular combination on Monday when they visited Ronald McDonald House.
“It means a lot to me,” Petratos said. “I’m a father myself so I enjoy coming out to things like this and just putting a big smile on the kids’ faces.”
“The kids aren’t shy, they are getting involved with us and it’s pretty amazing to be here.”
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.