Newcastle Jets stand-in skipper Ruben Zadkovich has joined Emile Heskey on the sidelines ahead of this weekend’s clash with the Brisbane Roar.
Zadkovich limped off the training paddock on Tuesday after he twisted his knee in an incident with Brazilian defender Tiago.
Medical tests revealed there was no major damage to the knee but there was some inflammation which will need to settle down before he can be cleared for this weekend’s match against Brisbane.
However, it is likely that Heskey, who was forced from the field at half-time in Newcastle’s 0-0 draw with Adelaide on Saturday, will be watching the match from the grandstand.
Scans on Monday revealed the former England international had a minor strain of his hip flexor and while not a serious injury it will more than likely keep him sidelined this weekend.
If Zadkovich is ruled out Jets coach Gary van Egmond could look at rushing club captain Jobe Wheelhouse back into the starting side.
Wheelhouse has been running strongly with the squad after recovering from a medial ligament strain in his right knee in early December and was due to make his return to the team from the bench this weekend.
Jacob Pepper, who has featured in the past four Jets fixtures, is the other option as defensive midfielder for Van Egmond.
The Jets coach will also have to decide whether to continue with the inexperienced back four who claimed the team’s first clean sheet this season in last weekend’s draw with the Reds.
Connor Chapman, Taylor Regan, Sam Gallaway and Craig Goodwin have an average age of just 20 and performed admirably against Adelaide, but with regular defenders Scott Neville and Dominik Ritter recovering from hamstring strains they will be under pressure to maintain their positions.
Goalkeeper Mark Birighitti, 21, has thrown his support behind the youngsters.
“It was good playing with that back four,” Birighitti said.
“I think we have to keep that and work on it, so hopefully it doesn’t change too much.
“To go out and perform the way they did was fantastic and hopefully they can keep improving.”
Birighitti said the squad had gained some muc- needed confidence from registering their first clean sheet of the season.
“It’s been coming for a long time now and I’m glad it came against my old club,” he said.
“The boys had a solid game, the back four was solid and we kept our structure well.
“Hopefully we can build on that performance and get three points this week against Brisbane.”