ANDREW Nabbout knows too well to take nothing for granted. Not his position in the Jets starting line-up, even his place in the A-League.
It is what has been driving the 24-year-old throughout the pre-season.
Nabbout, forced to reinvent his game during a stint in Malaysia before handed a lifeline by the Jets last season, is coming off a break-out campaign.
The power-packed winger scored a club-high eight goals last season to go with six assists. It was an output that had the former Melbourne Victory flyer in early contention for player-of-the-year honours.
His season – and the Jets – plateaued in the final third of the year.
With a new-look roster, boosted by the arrival of Dimi Petratos and Roy O’Donovan, Nabbout has set the bar higher for himself and the club.
“My aim last year was to hit double figures in assists and goals,” Nabbout said. “I ended up with six assists and eight goals. I have to up that this year. Players are never really safe in the A-League. You have to keep improving every year. The coaches have been identifying how I can score more goals. For me, I have to get in the box more. Last year I did’t do it enough. I was trying to create a lot of things myself but when the other boys created I wasn’t there to cash in at times.This year it is about me getting in the box, finishing off and trusting those players around me.”
The Jets take on Wellington Phoenix at Jack McLaughlan Oval on Saturday, from 3pm, in their last hit out against A-League opposition before the season opener against Central Coast on October 7.
“It is important that we keep scoring goals,” Nabbout said. “We have been doing well against A-League opposition. We did it against Melbourne City (3-1) and Sydney (2-1), who both fielded fairly strong sides. Hopefully Wellington field a near full-strength side and we take it to them again. I know if I make the runs someone will find me. We have Dimi, and Roy and Browny and the two midfielders, I trust in them and am getting in the box a lot more.”
Daniel Georgievski has a tight hamstring and along with Steve Ugarkovic, who has stitches in a cut on his leg, will sit out the clash, creating an opportunity for Jason Hoffman and Nick Cowburn. Jack Duncan starts in goals after missing the Sydney win with a groin niggle.
Wellington, who went down 1-0 to the Mariners on Tuesday, have been in camp at Cypress Lakes Resort.
“Wellington have pretty-much revamped the whole squad,” Nabbout said. “They have brought in a few decent players in Dario Vidosic, Dan Mullen and a few foreigners. Again it is A-League opposition. It gives us a chance to see what they are like and a chance to stamp our authority against them.”
Jets (likely): Jack Duncan; Jason Hoffman, Nigel Boogaard, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Ivan Vujica; Ben Kantarovski, Nick Cowburn; Dimi Petratos, Wayne Brown, Andrew Nabbout; Roy O’Donovan