BRISBANE Roar striker Adam Taggart will take sole ownership of a McDonald Jones Stadium ground record if he scores against Newcastle Jets on Sunday.
Taggart needs just one goal to become the A-League’s most prolific marksman on Newcastle’s home turf.
The 25-year-old has found the net 17 times in 29 games at Turton Road, a tally matched by another player to win an A-League Golden Boot for the Jets, Joel Griffiths (17 from 38).
The next best is Andrew Nabbout (12 goals in 24 games), who left the Jets to join Japanese club Urawa Red Diamonds midway through last season.
Griffiths scored all his goals at the ground while playing for Newcastle, whereas Taggart struck 13 times in 26 games for the Jets, and added another four goals in three games for his former club, Perth. He scored three goals for Perth in their 2-all draw and 2-0 win in Newcastle last season.
Since joining Brisbane at the start of this season, this will be his first appearance in Newcastle, which has been his happiest hunting ground throughout his career.
He has scored four doubles in Newcastle and one hat-trick, against Melbourne Heart in November, 2013.
His best return at any other A-League ground is at Perth’s NIB Stadium, where he scored 16 goals in 31 games over two seasons.
Ominously for Newcastle, he has started the season in dynamic form, scoring five goals in his first six games.
Only Sydney’s English import Adam le Fondre, with six goals, is ahead of him on the leading scorers’ chart.
The main concern for Taggart will be a groin strain that forced him off the field after 37 minutes in last week’s 2-1 loss to Adelaide United.
Brisbane coach John Aloisi admitted during the week the No.9 was “touch and go” but Brisbane named him on Thursday in their preliminary 18-man squad, along with Frenchman Eric Bautheac, who has been troubled by a knee injury.
Newcastle assistant coach Clayton Zane said the Jets would prefer Taggart to play, regardless of the potential threat he would present.
“We always want to play teams when they’re at maximum strength … we want to play teams so that it’s preparation for finals for us,” Zane said.
Zane, who coached Taggart at Newcastle during the 2013-14 season, said the seven-game Socceroo was Brisbane’s main attacking outlet.
“Their whole game plan seems to be based on feeding Adam Taggart,” Zane said.
“They sit deep. They don’t tend to force things when they’re playing out from the back.
“They tend to be more a counter-attacking team, and we know that’s Taggs’ whole game, getting on the shoulders, using his speed.
“He’s got good movement, but luckily we’ve got two centre halves who read the game really well and we’ve got two fullbacks with exceptional speed.
“So we’ll feel he’s one that we can definitely contain, and obviously he’s coming into this game with a bit of an injury concern, so hopefully that will prevent him from doing what he does best.”
Newcastle have injury worries of their own.
Marquee man Ronny Vargas has succumbed to a nagging groin injury and was omitted as a precaution, rather than risk aggravating it.
Defender Lachlan Jackson has been ruled out because his breathing has been affected by a broken nose he suffered in last week’s 3-0 loss to Melbourne City.
He is expected to be replaced at left back by Ivan Vujica. Brazilian winger Jair, who missed last week’s game with a hip injury, is considered some chance of playing on Sunday.
Meanwhile, during the Japanese off-season, Nabbout is likely to spend time with Newcastle training in preparation for Australia’s Asian Cup campaign in January.