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Newcastle Jets' Petratos in fitness race

A back injury to attacking dynamo Dimitri Petratos has dampened Newcastle's high spirits as they prepare for a critical A-League clash with Wellington.

Newcastle Jets' Petratos in fitness race

A back injury to attacking dynamo Dimitri Petratos has dampened Newcastle's high spirits as they prepare for a critical A-League clash with Wellington.

Dimitri Petratos of the Roar and JOSHUA BRILLANTE of Sydney FC compete for the ball during the A-League match between the Brisbane Roar and Sydney FC at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia.
Dimitri Petratos of the Roar and JOSHUA BRILLANTE of Sydney FC compete for the ball during the A-League match between the Brisbane Roar and Sydney FC at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia. Picture:Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Newcastle are sweating on the fitness of chief playmaker Dimitri Petratos ahead of the most critical match of their A-League campaign.

Jets coach Ernie Merrick will give attacking midfielder Petratos as long as possible to prove his fitness for Thursday's home match against Wellington, a team on their radar they're to break into the top six.


Merrick is quietly confident the two-match Socceroo will run onto McDonald Jones Stadium for the seventh-placed Jets against a Phoenix side who sit one place and eight points ahead of them.

Petratos played the entire match when the Jets spanked Western Sydney 5-1 on Friday, scoring the opener, setting up another and proving a constant menace to the Wanderers with his movement and passing.

He was later diagnosed with a muscle problem in his lower back, which was putting pressure on his spine.

"I guess he's in some doubt but we're hoping he'll come through," Merrick said.

"He'll get spoiled rotten. Lots of massage and physiotherapy."

The veteran coach had little time for critics who felt Petratos had been below his best this season, saying the 26-year-old hadn't let the Jets down since the opening game of the season, when he scored in their 2-1 loss away to Wellington.

"That's been said a few times that Dimi's confidence is down but I've got all these stats - number of assists, number of shots on target - and his stats this season are better than ever.

"The only down side was when he puts the ball in the box, it's not being finished off and when he shoots, either he hits the post, or it's saved or it's just wide."

Changes are otherwise unlikely in a Jets team that finally unfurled an attacking display which Merrick had long-insisted was coming.

Central midfielder Matt Ridenton had been withdrawn early with "tight calves" but was expected to play against his former club.

AAP


AAP




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