A-League: Riley McGree in frame for Jets start as Kantarovski battle hamstring issue | pictures, video

ON TARGET: Riley McGree slips a shot past Jack Duncan at Jets training. The midfielder is in line to make his starting debut against Western Sydney Wanderers on Friday. Picture: Sproule Sports Focus.
ON TARGET: Riley McGree slips a shot past Jack Duncan at Jets training. The midfielder is in line to make his starting debut against Western Sydney Wanderers on Friday. Picture: Sproule Sports Focus.

RILEY McGree is in line to make his starting debut for the Jets as midfield enforcer Ben Kantarovski battles to shake off a hamstring issue.

Kantarovski had scans on Monday and is rated a 50-50 chance of taking on Western Sydney Wanderers at Spotless Stadium on Friday.

The problem is related to the injury that sidelined Kantarovski for three games in January.

Wayne Brown partnered Steve Ugarkovic in front of the back four during that spell and performed well.

McGree has been deployed in more attacking roles in his two appearances off the bench but is also adept at playing as a six.

Ivan Vujica, who was rested for the 2-0 win over Melbourne Victory, has Tonsillitis and has been ruled out of Friday.

As reported in the Herald on Monday, the Jets have extended the contracts of Jason Hoffman and Nick Cowburn until the end of next season.

The squad is refreshed after having the first weekend of the split round off. Wanderers thumped Wellington 4-0 on Sunday in a clash deferred from round seven.

New striker, fringe Socceroo, Chris Ikonomidis marked his first start with a goal and had another shot cleared off the line. Fellow January arrival Marcelo Carrusca was also a constant threat and provided an assist.

The fresh faces have added a different dimension to a Wanderers attack, which has struggled for goals.

But Jets keeper Jack Duncan said the visitors would adopt the same defensive pressure that set up a 4-0 win over Wanderers at home on December 22.

“The boys they had at the start of the year, Alvara Cejudo and that, were still very good players,” Duncan said. “We shut them down quickly and didn’t allow them time on the ball. That is what we are looking to do again, and hopefully those players don’t have an influence on the game. It will be a good test. Wanderers had a good result Sunday night and will be very confident. We are sitting second and need to make sure we keep the gap between us and the teams below us. To do that we need to keep getting results and putting in good performances.”

Duncan was outstanding in the win over Victory, the 24-year-old’s third game back after missing 10 weeks with a foot injury.

“It was good to have a strong performance, get some confidence back and play my part in a good 2-0 win,” Duncan said.

“For me, I am in a situation where you can’t come off the bench and get 10 minutes and get your rhythm. To get things back like your timing, positioning and the speed of the game, it does take a game or so to get that 100 per cent. It’s there now and I’m feeling good.”

The Jets have conceded 22 goals in 19 games to have the second best defensive record behind Sydney FC (14 goals).

“It comes from the fact that we like to be very attacking,” Duncan said. “On the flipside, we win the ball back high up the pitch. That has been a big aim throughout the season, to be proactive and win the ball back as quick as possible. That means we are not having to do as much defence around our own goal area.”