ERNIE Merrick is not concerned with the amount of work that Roy O’Donovan and Wayne Brown get through at Newcastle Jets training on Wednesday.
However, the seasoned coach wants to be assured that the imports will not risk aggravating injuries if they travel to Perth to take on the Glory on Saturday night.
“It is not really their fitness, their skills or the way they play the game, it is about making sure they can’t re-injure themselves,” Merrick said. “Those are two players we need in the team because of their personality, their experience and the way they influence the team in a very positive, confident way.”
O’Donovan, the competition’s equal leading goal-scorer with seven, has sat out three games with a groin injury.
Brown has been sidelined for the same period because of a calf issue.
“Roy and Wayne have been working hard,” Merrick said.
“They took part in the warm-up and ball-work drills and then did extra work with our physiotherapist Justin Dougherty.”
Merrick didn’t rule a bench role for both senior players.
“To have them with the travelling group, would be a very positive thing,” he said. “If they are definitely ruled out, I wouldn’t take them. But if they are in with a chance of either starting or playing on the bench we will take them. We will take an extra player as well to cover that.”
The Jets have lost two of the three games without O’Donovan and Brown. They were defeated 2-1 by leaders Sydney FC in round seven and went down by the same scoreline to Melbourne City on Saturday.
In both defeats, the Jets created more chances than the opposition but were unable to find an equaliser.
“It wasn’t the result we wanted [against City] but I thought we played some tremendous football in the first half,” Merrick said. “We didn’t play our best football in the second half, but we still created chances. That is the great thing about this team, we are always gong to create chances.”
Perth are coming off a 1-0 loss to the Mariners on the Central Coast. It was their fourth loss on the road this campaign but they were with leading quarter Diego Castro, Andy Keogh and Adam Taggart.
“Perth are always very tough to beat over there,” Merrick said. “Obviously, the travel comes into it but they also have a very good side. Perth play open football. They don’t play defensive counter-attacking football. That open style is how we want to play all the way through. They have a few players out and we have a few out, so it should be a fairly even game.”