ERNIE Merrick concedes “he needs to do something” to spark the Jets attack.
But how the coach goes about it and who he deploys will hinge on a fitness report.
Merrick, after being without four strikers for the 3-0 loss to Melbourne City, hopes to have Brazilian Jair (hip flexor) and English-born frontman Kaine Sheppard (foot) available for the clash against Brisbane at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday.
But their inclusion could be countered by the absence of marquee midfielder Ronny Vargas.
Vargas, captain Nigel Boogaard and Jair worked with the rehabilitation group at training on Tuesday.
The Herald understands that Vargas is in the most doubt for the visit by the sixth-placed Roar.
“There are three players still struggling from the car park at Spotless Stadium,” Merrick said in reference to the substandard pitch on which the Jets beat Wanderers 2-0 10 days ago.
“Jair still has a hip flexor issue, Nigel’s joints have paid a price and Ronny Vargas has been struggling with a groin issue similar to the one Daniel Georgievski had. Daniel seems to have gotten over his. Nigel is always available. That is his attitude and I don’t think he will be in doubt. I’m not sure about Ronny.
“I’m not going to risk anyone who is susceptible to further injury. It’s the seventh round, we can still go another week without them.”
The Jets have scored five goals in the opening six rounds, well down on the two-per-game they averaged last season in their drive to the grand final.
Roy O'Donovan, who has two games to serve of a 10-game suspension, had scored six goals by this stage last season.
With Andrew Nabbout no longer at the club and Joey Champness (broken foot) sidelined, the Jets have lacked penetration and crafted just three shots on target against City.
“We certainly need to do something up front. We just didn’t look like scoring on the weekend,” Merrick said.”
If Vargas is cleared, Merrick said the skillful Venezuelan will not be used at the point of the attack as he was against City.
“I tried Ronny in a high striker role and it was very tough on him,” Merrick said. “I don’t want to have to play him there again. I would rather have someone else available in that high position.”
Jair or Sheppard, pending fitness, are likely to be given that role, but Merrick said Jason Hoffman and Mitch Austin were also options.
“A combination up front with any of those will work and be better than what we have had,” the coach said “The way we try and set up the team is to have three high strikers. Two of those must be able to get in behind and break the last line of defence. At the moment, we are struggling to get one player in behind.
“Ronny is certainly not an in-behind player. Jair and Kaine would be the type of players who can get in behind. Mitch is more of a wide player. Jason can as well. I don’t want to have to bring in another inexperienced player like Angus (Thurgate) or Kosta (Petratos).”