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Consistency key for Jets in ALM finals bid

Newcastle coach Arthur Papas is challenging his team to rid themselves of inconsistency in a quest for a rare finals appearance.

The Jets have made finals just once in the past 12 years – when they reached the 2018 grand final – and sit ninth on the ladder after a 2-0 defeat to the Brisbane Roar last weekend.

With seven matches to play in the home-and-away campaign, the Jets are six points outside the top six ahead of Sunday’s visit by last-placed Perth Glory.

Papas says the key to his team making a charge for the finals will be erasing moments in games where they find themselves being punished.

“In most seasons there’s usually a certain point tally to get into the six. It’s usually within 36 to 38 most of the time,” he said.

“We’ve still got 21 points to play for and we want to win all those games.

“We win those games and we control our own destiny.

“Our performances for the large part have shown that we can compete at the top end.

“But there’s been inconsistency and areas where we haven’t done as well as we’d have liked, so we’re exactly where we’re meant to be in the end but it isn’t where we have to finish.”

Newcastle will welcome back Daniel Penha from suspension having missed the Brazilian’s creativity badly against the Roar.

Papas has used Penha’s return to call for greater protection for the playmaker with the Jets being the most-fouled team in the competition.

“I’d assume it’s part of a strategy to target certain players,” Papas said.

“If everything is done within the rules of the game, it doesn’t matter.

“If it’s not within the rules of the game, then it’s a different story.”

The Glory meanwhile are heading east on an 11-match winless run which includes a goalless draw with the Jets on March 30.

Interim coach Ruben Zadkovich is also dealing with a mounting injury crisis after Adrian Sardinero (knee) and Adam Zimarino (ankle) joined a casualty list that already includes Daniel Sturridge, Andy Keogh, Bruno Fornaroli, Brandon O’Neill and Brad Jones.

“It’s exciting for those young players to come in, but obviously bitterly disappointing to lose another couple of quality players to injury,” said Zadkovich, with Jacob Muir and Jayden Gorman coming into the squad.

“If we lose more players, we’ll have to look at what’s next and if guys like Andy (Keogh) become available, we can always fly those guys over.”

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