Boogaard gets green light for Jets' semi

Emma Kemp
AAP

Newcastle coach Ernie Merrick has all but cleared captain Nigel Boogaard to play a role in Friday night's A-League semi-final with Melbourne City.

Boogaard has been sidelined since fracturing his knee during the Jets' upset of Sydney FC nearly two months ago and was expected to be out for the season.

But in a huge boost for the club's first final in eight years, the centre-back has been tracking ahead of schedule and appears set for a spot on the bench.

Ronny Vargas is also nearly back to full fitness after a groin problem kept the injury-prone marquee attacker out of the Jets' final-round 8-2 thumping of Central Coast.

"They did really well so they're part of the squad and I suspect they'll play some part in the game," Merrick said.

"The only one out is (Ben) Kantarovski, but Ronny and Nigel are looking very good. It's good to see them training so well.

"We know the formation and the style we'll play ... there won't be too many changes from that last game when we scored eight goals against the Mariners but there's always places up for grabs."

Despite their remarkable resurrection the Jets haven't beaten City this season and most recently succumbed to a 3-0 home loss.

That came during a mini-slump during which the team were adjusting to the loss of Andrew Nabbout to Japan, Boogaard's injury and striker Roy O'Donovan's suspension.

"There were a couple of close games (against City)," Merrick said.

"In one game their goalkeeper was man of the match so we've created lots of chances, it's about finishing.

"And also having the full squad available, and we've virtually got that now apart from Ben Kantarovski.

"Our midfield is operating so much better now and we've got numbers forward and our defence is pretty well rock solid."