ROY O’Donovan’s great start to the season has been recognised after the Newcastle Jets striker was named as one of five nominees for Professional Footballers Australia’s player-of-the-month award.
O’Donovan has scored five goals in his first four games for Newcastle since his off-season move from Central Coast.
The other nominees are Bart Schenkeveld and Michael Jakobsen (Melbourne City), Johan Absalonsen (Adelaide) and Oriol Riera (Western Sydney).
O’Donovan will be hoping to continue his hot form in Saturday night’s home clash with Wellington Phoenix, who will welcome back inspirational captain Andrew Durante.
Durante, the former Jets centre back, has missed three games with a groin adductor injury.
His return will boost a Phoenix squad depleted by the absence of Scott Galloway (hamstring) and Marco Rossi (groin).
Another former Newcastle defender, Daniel Mullen, is expected to move to right back in a new-look back four.
Phoenix coach Darije Kalezic said his team would need to match up physically if they were any chance of getting a result.
“It is an aggressive team with a lot of physical power in the team, so I think to win the game the minimum we have to do is be the same aggression as them,” he said.
“That is very important factor in the game, so we have to prepare for that … we’re expecting an aggressive Newcastle [team], we expect them to not want to leave us to play, but it's a great moment for us to try to play under the pressure.”
The Phoenix blew a 3-0 lead to draw 3-3 with last-placed Brisbane Roar last weekend.
"The biggest thing we identified is that we stopped being dominant in ball possession,” Kalezic said. “That's the biggest reason.
"That we stopped playing has nothing to do with the opponent, it has everything to do with us.
“Of course the opponent put pressure on us, but we want to play through the pressure and players have to show courage to do that … all respect to Brisbane, but that has nothing to do with Brisbane, that has to do more with us.”