Roar’s Berisha has Birighitti on alert

HE roared back to form with a brace and is the most feared striker in the A-League, but Brisbane beast Besart Berisha poses more than just a threat in front of goal for the Jets.

The volatile Albanian leads the Roar’s vaunted pressing game, applying the blowtorch to teams  playing out from the back.

From there the well-oiled Brisbane pressure game clicks into overdrive.

‘‘Goalkeepers don’t like it when strikers chase you down,’’ shotstopper Mark Birighitti said ahead of the Jets clash with the Roar at Hunter Stadium on Saturday night.

‘‘I’m going to have to be wary of that, be confident and do my job.

“No doubt Brisbane will come out this week with all guns blazing after a disappointing result against Melbourne Heart.

‘‘They will want to come out and prove a point, so it’s going to be a tough game, but I’m pretty confident the boys can step up to the challenge and get three points.’’

It will not be just Birighitti who can expect heat from a desperate Roar outfit, smarting from a controversial 3-2 loss to the Heart.

Helping achieve the club’s first clean sheet of the season, new central defensive pair Connor Chapman and Taylor Regan were allowed to launch the Jets attack  by a heat-struck Adelaide outfit. They are  unlikely however to get the same latitude from the  champions.  

The Jets midfield will    possibly be minus  Jobe Wheelhouse and Ruben Zadkovich.

Wheelhouse is expected but not certain to play his first game since suffering a grade-one tear to his medial ligament on December 4.

Scans on Tuesday cleared Zadkovich of a serious knee injury but he has inflammation in the joint and remains in doubt.

The high-octane midfielder, as well as marquee striker Emile Heskey (strained hip flexor), will be assessed over the next two days.

Berisha started on the left flank for the Roar in the Heart loss, with German playmaker Thomas Broich employed in a "false 9" role.

However, coach Mike Mulvey aborted the tactic after 30 minutes, returning to a 4-1-2-3 formation with Berisha at the point.

The striker responded with two goals  to get the visitors back in the match and take his tally to eight, 13 short of the 21 he scored last campaign on the way to the Golden Boot.

The fiery No.9 scored from the penalty spot in a 1-0 win to the Roar over the Jets at Suncorp Stadium in round nine.

“Everyone knows what a top quality striker he is,’’ Birighitti said.

‘‘He might not do anything – for 85 minutes he might not hardly touch the ball – and then he will pop up and score a goal.

‘‘You have to be on your toes the whole game.’’

The Roar yesterday added little-used Melbourne Victory striker Julius Davies to the roster in place of Rocky Visconte (Western Sydney).

His signature followed that of former Jets championship-winning captain Jade North on Tuesday.

Neither are available until the A-League transfer window opens next Monday.

The champions are also expected to announce tomorrow the retention of  Young Socceroo Corey Brown.

They were successful in beating off an approach from the Jets for the highly regarded left back, who is the son of former Newcastle Breakers striker Rod Brown.

Speculation continues over the future of midfielder Erik Paartalu.

His future remains unclear in what Mulvey admitted was a ‘‘rejuvenation process’’.

‘‘We definitely needed a defender there’s no question about that and Jade fits that bill perfectly,’’ he said.

‘‘We’re freshening up the squad a little bit.

‘‘Brisbane Roar have been a championship-winning team the last two years but you can’t rest on your laurels. It’s evolution, that’s what it is.’’

– with AAP

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