In terms of assignments in Australian women’s football, it doesn’t get much tougher than dealing with Ballon d’Or finalist, backflipping Matildas striker and Perth Glory star Sam Kerr.
And Saturday’s task of containing her at No.2 Sportsground hasn’t been made any easier for the Newcastle Jets, who this week saw injured captain Emily van Egmond (ankle) join a star-studded casualty ward on the sidelines for the rest of the W-League season.
However, despite the latest setback Jets coach Craig Deans said his team would take confidence out of a 2-all draw with a Kerr-led Glory in Perth on December 15.
“Individual player wise it doesn’t [get any tougher than Kerr],” Deans said.
“As a team there’s probably more rounded teams across the board, but obviously to have voted the second best player in the world in your team is something every coach would love to have.
“Having said that, she scored a penalty in the first game and other than that [Jets goalkeeper] Britt [Eckerstrom] made a couple of good saves off her but it’s by no means a one-player team.
“Rachel Hill has scored plenty of goals, [Alyssa] Mautz has plenty of goals, they’ve got four internationals in there so they have enough experience.”
“We need to take some confidence out of the fact we played them with 10 players for 70-odd minutes and came away from that game with a draw.
“And I didn’t think that at any stage of the game we were by far the second best team on the pitch.”
Newcastle’s previous meeting with second-placed Perth was the only time the Jets have collected a competition point since back-to-back wins in rounds three and four.
They have lost four of their last five outings and must now turn that form around to have any chance of bridging the seven-point gap between them and the semi-final spots with four regular rounds remaining.
“We have to win every game without a doubt and even then that might be enough,” Deans said.
“We know we’ve left ourselves a fair bit of work to do.
“We’ve just struggled with continuity for different reasons throughout the season.
“I don’t even know if we’ve put the same XI on the park two weeks in a row which is never ideal and last year we didn’t have to worry about things like that.”
Matildas vice-captain van Egmond, who is likely out for six weeks after Wednesday’s training incident but remains hopeful of representing Australia at a third World Cup in June, is unavailable for the Jets alongside injured US teammates Katie Stengel (foot) and Taylor Smith (ACL).
However, coming back for Newcastle is Cortnee Vine while youngster Tessa Tamplin has been promoted.
Vine (calf) was a late withdrawal from the Jets’ 3-1 loss to Sydney FC on January 4.
Libby Copus-Brown, who scored a quality goal against the Sky Blues last start, comes into contention for Newcastle’s starting XI.
Kick-off is 5:45pm.