GOALKEEPER Ante Covic knows the Newcastle Jets are running out of chances.
Down on personnel and down on luck, the Jets face a must-win match against Adelaide at EnergyAustralia Stadium tomorrow.
The Jets are in seventh place on 11 points. Another loss and they can almost forget about their A-League championship defence and start looking towards next year's Asian Champions League.
"Everyone knows if we are going to make an impression it must start now," Covic said.
"The senior boys have taken it upon themselves to make sure everything this week has been done professionally and that the motivation is up.
"We have hammered home the point that we have to get something out of the next two games.
"I do not think draws will help us much. We are playing at home and need to win."
The Jets' cause is not helped by the fact that star striker Joel Griffiths and fringe Socceroos midfielder Mark Milligan are in the stands serving the first week of two-match bans.
Korean playmaker Song Jin-hyung is also in doubt with an ankle injury.
In the six games Griffiths has missed since the start of the 2006-07 season, the Jets have recorded five losses and a draw.
"The players realise Joel is important, but we are not a one-man team," Covic said.
"Look back at the Melbourne game [in round 8 which the Jets won 1-0] and Joel did not have a major impact.
"He came on for the final 15 minutes or so. We created a lot of chances in that game."
Teenager Marko Jesic was the hero that night slotting home a 86th-minute matchwinner in his run-on debut.
With Griffiths in the stands and marquee player Edmundo Zura back in Ecuador, Jesic will lead the attack against Adelaide.
"I have a belief in these young boys," Covic said.
"Someone like Marko, mentally he is pretty switched on. He is confident without being cocky.
"We have a young squad and it is up to them to show themselves.
"We are a bit thin up front. It is in their hands to show [coach Gary van Egmond] Dutchy what they are made of.
"It is an incentive for them to stand up."
Covic, too, has a point to prove.
The fringe Socceroo shot-stopper has made a series of uncharacteristic errors this season but returned to his commanding best against Wellington, despite the 2-0 loss.
He commanded his box with authority, moving strongly off his line to haul in cross after cross.
"I have made no secret that I have been disappointed with my season," Covic said.
"It has been up and down and has not really been me. For some reason the crosses this season have not felt comfortable.
"But against Wellington I was very confident. I know I still have to get back to a consistent level.
"Until I am consistently at that level, I won't be totally happy. The weekend before was one of my worst games. I do not want to play a couple of good games then relax and let myself go again."
Covic will need to be at his best again, particularly aerially.
"They get down the flanks well and whip in quite a few crosses," Covic said.
"From set pieces they have [Sasa] Ognenovski come up, [Angelo] Costanzo comes and [Robert] Cornthwaite has scored a couple of goals off his head. They are quite dangerous."