Newcastle winger Andrew Nabbout believes his fellow Jets attackers can exploit Melbourne City out wide when they visit AAMI Park tonight to kick off Round 6 of the Hyundai A-League.
Nabbout, a standout for the Hunter side this season, made his return from injury off the bench last week as the Jets lost 2-0 at Wellington Phoenix.
And in good news for Jets fans, the 23-year-old declared he is “back to normal” and ready to attack City for 90 minutes.
City’s tactics have seen them switch from a back four in defence to a back three in possession this season, with Neil Kilkenny often deployed as a pseudo centre-back who steps into midfield when attacking.
Brisbane Roar exploited that set-up to beat City 1-0 last week and Nabbout revealed Newcastle had taken note of how Jamie Maclaren and Co. “caught them on transition”.
“Obviously we’re aware that they play three at the back – and even if they play four at the back – we’ve got pace in wide areas and up front where we can expose them,” Nabbout said.
While the Jets have lost their past two matches, they showed in their opening three games that with the likes of Nabbout, Wayne Brown and Andrew Hoole in the forward third, Mark Jones’ side can be dangerous on the counterattack.
Nabbout, who has been named the Jets’ player of the month for October, claimed he is ready to start in his hometown of Melbourne after recovering from a groin strain he sustained against Western Sydney Wanderers in Round 3.
“I feel fine. I’ve been cleared by the medical staff and I’ve been working closely with Justin [Dougherty] – the physio – and [strength and conditioning coach] Chris [Smith] and I feel great,” he said.
If Nabbout starts, he is likely to line up alongside central playmaker Brown, who signed a 12-month contract extension on Wednesday.
The Englishman, who has committed to Newcastle until the end of the 2018-19 season, believes City haven’t been as impressive this term as some believe.
“For me, they’ve been a little bit hot and cold this season,” Brown said.
“You know, some games they’ve been phenomenal and some games they’ve not produced that form.”