SUB: Michael Bridges at Jets training.ENGLISH veterans Francis Jeffers and Michael Bridges are set to play a tag-team role as the Jets try to crack their Wellington hoodoo tonight.
Bridges, the 33-year-old striker who retired at the end of last season but has made a comeback, has been named to play in his second A-League match of the season.
But Jets coach Gary van Egmond said it was unlikely Bridges would partner Jeffers, 30, up front in what is expected to be a new 4-4-2 formation.
The more likely option is that Jeffers will start the match and Bridges will replace him midway through the second half, thereby sharing the role of target man with a speedster such as Ryan Griffiths, Jeremy Brockie or Ali Abbas.
‘‘I think they’re both quality players, but for us to try and impose ourselves further up the pitch I think it’s going to be a difficult one for Francis and Bridgey for a 90-minute game,’’ van Egmond said.
‘‘They can definitely sustain that for periods of the game, but maybe not for the whole of the game. So to get that balance of having somebody with a good work rate with a player of the ilk of a Francis or a Bridgey is something we need to balance.’’
Asked whether that meant he would start with Jeffers then substitute him with Bridges, van Egmond replied: ‘‘Yes. Either or – one of those types of moves, then obviously we’re looking at who we play closer to them.’’
The recall of Bridges means youngster Chris Payne makes way, after playing just 10 minutes in his Jets debut in last week’s 2-1 loss to Sydney.
Van Egmond said he was not unhappy with Payne’s contribution but Bridges had shown during a youth league hit-out last Friday that he was ready for higher company.
‘‘We just felt for this game it was best to bring Bridgey in,’’ he said. ‘‘He’s been doing really, really well … we looked at it at training and Bridgey has trained well.’’
Without skipper Jobe Wheelhouse and senior player Kasey Wehrman, Newcastle will be led by Brazilian import Tiago.
Van Egmond backed Tiago to lead by example.
‘‘He sees the whole game and he’s got the respect of all the players by the way he conducts himself,’’ he said.
Despite the presence of Tiago and the availability of central defensive partner Nikolai Topor-Stanley, who returns from a hamstring injury, van Egmond indicated Taylor Regan would retain a spot in the starting team, possibly as defensive midfielder.
Midfielder Ruben Zadkovich has four yellow cards, so one more booking will bring mandatory suspension.
But Van Egmond said he did not want Zadkovich to tone down his feisty playing style.
‘‘I think if you start making him aware of it, that might inhibit his natural game,’’ the coach said. ‘‘We don’t like people getting yellow cards or getting sent off unnecessarily. That comes down to your discipline and positioning.’’