Jets skipper Nigel Boogaard is "a good chance" to return from a 12-week injury lay-off when Newcastle take on Phoenix in Wellington in round 16 on Friday.
The last-placed Jets have just nine points in 13 games but have put in more competitive performances under interim coach Craig Deans in the past two matches, losing 2-0 and 2-1 to A-League top two Melbourne City and Sydney respectively.
It followed a five-game winless run, which included 17 goals conceded, under coach Ernie Merrick, who was sacked on January 6.
A factor in the horror season has been the absence of centre-back Boogaard, who has not played since a round four 4-1 loss to Sydney on November 1 because of an adductor injury.
Deans said Boogaard was close to playing against City after training fully last week and he loomed as an inclusion for the clash with Wellington.
"Nigel was back the whole week last week and could have been involved on Saturday if we wanted to push it, but we decided it wasn't worth the risk at that point," Deans said.
"But he'll obviously do the whole week this week and put his hand up for selection, and in the situation that we're in, the experience that he brings and the quality of football that he brings will be something that's valuable so there's a good chance he comes back in."
Boogaard has taken longer than initially expected to come back from the tear but Deans had no qualms about the captain potentially returning in the overseas match. Newcastle chief executive Lawrie McKinna said the Jets will arrive in Wellington on Thursday at 10pm AEDT, which is midnight in New Zealand. The match is set down for 5.15pm (AEDT) on Friday.
"Travel, etc, doesn't really enter the equation for me," Deans said.
"I'm not one of those coaches that worries about sitting on a plane and what time and all that sort of thing.
"We aren't in a position where we even need to waste time talking about getting on a plane and travelling. We're in a position where we need to win football games and we have no room for excuses.
"We're going to train hard and prepare ourselves the best we can."
After the 6-2 loss in Perth on December 21, Merrick commented on the effect the Jets' late-night arrival the day before the game had on his players. The Jets had travelled two days before the Perth game in past seasons.
Deans, though, dismissed flight times ahead of the Wellington trip.
"We did that with the W-League team and we won the game [in Perth]," he said of travelling the day prior.
"We didn't win the game because we went two days earlier, we won the game because on the day we were the better team.
"We'll travel to Wellington and if we're the better team, we'll win the game, and if we're not, we won't.
"I don't buy into flights etc. I hadn't even thought about it until you asked me the question, so that's it."
McKinna said most A-League clubs, including Perth, travel the day before matches involving flights.
"The boys will train in the morning and get an afternoon flight," he said of Thursday's schedule.
"They are going to get in late, but then it's a late kick-off, so the boys will get a sleep in."
Deans said his side came through unscathed from the City loss but there was flexibility in his squad to make changes as they search for much-needed goals. He also flagged a more attacking mindset from the outset.
"It was a little bit similar to the Sydney game where we started a bit slow and allowed the opposition to get into the game and get control of the game," he said.
"We addressed it at half-time and second half it was a much better performance, and enough chances again to get something out of the game.
"But it's just about making sure we're ruthless and clinical when we need to be and that's going to continue to be the focus.
"From the tactical point of view, we need to be more aggressive from the start. Obviously that's from me, that's a coaching decision and we probably got that wrong in the first couple of games to a degree so we'll rectify that for the Wellington game."
The Jets welcomed star playmaker Wes Hoolahan back to full training on Tuesday but Deans said he was "still a couple of weeks away from playing". The Irishman is yet to feature in the A-League after an ankle injury sustained in the FFA Cup.
Midfielder Matt Ridenton was also back at training after his trial with English Championship side Reading. Deans, though, said the Kiwi international was unlikely to play against his former club.
"He's had a long flight to the UK and a long flight back," he said. "It might be better just to give him a week to get back into the swing of things and look at him next week."
Former Jets Youth player Antonee Burke was also at training on Tuesday. Deans said Burke was training with the Jets to stay fit before returning to the US to play.