American striker Katie Stengel looks set to miss Newcastle’s clash with three-time defending champions Melbourne City on Sunday at McDonald Jones Stadium after injuring her ankle at training.
Stengel was Newcastle’s leading scorer, and second in the competition, with 10 goals in her first W-League season with the club last campaign and was a key retention for 2018-19.
Assistant coach Ash Wilson said the club was unsure of the extent of the injury and Stengel was having scans. The Utah Royals forward was limping heavily on Tuesday and could be a long-term loss for the Jets, which would be a major blow to their hopes of repeating last season’s finals appearance.
“From the game everyone’s OK, but Katie Stengel copped a knock yesterday at training on her ankle,” Wilson said on Tuesday.
“We’re investigating that at the moment so we’re still not sure what’s going to happen with that.
“It’s probably unlikely she’s going to play this weekend. If there is anything that’s significant, the club will let people know.”
Cortnee Vine looms as a likely replacement for Stengel after being an unlucky omission from the starting side that lost 1-0 to Brisbane last Thursday night at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Vine and Teigen Collister made way for Matildas defender Larissa Crummer (thigh injury) and surprise American signing Arin Wright (nee Gilliland), who landed in Australia only a few days earlier.
Vine scored a contender for goal of the year in the 1-0 win over Canberra and also opened the Jets’ account for the season in the 2-1 loss to Melbourne Victory.
Wilson said Vine was an option to replace Stengel.
“Cortnee looks like she can come in and fill a role for us there,” she said.
“That gives us pace up front and obviously we will change a few things to make that suit, but we’ve got players to be able to fill gaps.”
She said Vine had been unlucky to miss a starting spot against Brisbane.
“It was a case of we have similar players in Cort and Jenna [Kingsley],” she said.
“Both of them have scored goals and obviously someone like Cortnee can come on at the back end of games and do something special.
“Jenna is someone who works really hard. She’s up there to do a lot of the work some other players don’t really want to do and get us into a position where we can bring on someone like Cortnee to play against a tired defence and create something special.”
Jets coach Craig Deans was disappointed with his side’s attack and long-ball approach against Brisbane and Wilson said the focus at training had been on creating opportunities and being more composed on the ball.
Newcastle, who also beat Western Sydney 1-0, are sixth on six points, two points in front of City, heading into their round-six clash. The Jets have never beaten City, who won the grand final after finishing fourth last season.
The 2.30pm game is part of a double header with the Jets’ A-League team, who play Brisbane Roar at 5pm.