IT wasn’t long ago that Ernie Merrick was asked how he planned to fit all his attacking options into the Jets starting side.
Now the Newcastle coach is faced with the prospect of being without star imports Pato Rodriguez and Ronny Vargas for at least three weeks.
Rodriguez will be sidelined for a month after scans confirmed a grade-two strain in his calf, sustained late in the Jets controversial 2-all draw with Western Sydney on Friday night.
The former AEK Athens winger was outstanding in the second half against Wanderers and provided an assist for Dimi Petratos’ opening goal.
Riley McGree, who has made three appearances off the bench since arriving on loan, will replace Rodriguez on the left wing against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.
Joe Champness will be on the bench and Merrick hopes to have Vargas back from a broken ankle he suffered in round three for the home clash against Wellington on March 17.
“Ronny has responded to the call to get back and help the team,” Merrick said. “He is training twice a day, six days a week. He is picking the intensity up and I expect him to rejoin the group in the next week or so.”