Jets co-captain O'Neill set for ALM return
Newcastle co-captain Brandon O'Neill is on track to return from injury against defending A-League Men champions Western United as the Jets aim to extend their six-game unbeaten run.
Midfielder O'Neill suffered a calf injury at training after the January 1 clash with Sydney FC and has missed the last seven rounds.
Coach Arthur Papas said O'Neill was "back in the fold now and he will play a part" in Saturday afternoon's home clash.
O'Neill's impending return is a boost for a side that has compensated superbly in his absence.
The Jets have won three of their last four matches to surge into seventh place on the ALM ladder on 24 points, just three behind second placed Central Coast.
Papas said he had not tweaked too much during the side's purple patch of form.
"Now we are just executing a lot better and that breeds confidence," he said.
"The boys are hungry as well, which is important. They are not complacent."
That strong mental attitude will be called on once more against cellar-dwellers Western United but Papas said he was expecting a tough test.
"I am under no illusions about what Western United bring," he said.
"They are last year's champions, well coached and with a lot of quality individuals in that group who play a really good brand of football."
The Jets thrive when they score first and Papas said the start to the game would be vital to maintain that trend.
"We need to very aggressive and if we score the first goal, go on with it," Papas said.
The Jets have three of their next four games at home and aim to cash in on their draw.
"We have tried to make it a difficult place to come," Papas said.
"When you travel to Newcastle you already know you are up for a battle, that is what a lot of this region represents as well."