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Nov 13, 2012

Popovic backs Bridge to keep scoring

Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic has backed Mark Bridge to finally start becoming a consistent goal-scorer as the in-form striker looks to extend his run of form against Newcastle on Saturday.

While Bridge has produced a number of crucial goals in his career, including scoring in two grand-final wins, he has been criticised at times for his inconsistency.

He arrived at Western Sydney this season with 30 goals in 130 A-League games, averaging roughly one every five matches.

But after a modest campaign with the Sky Blues last year, the 27-year-old looks to have been refreshed by a move to the A-League newcomers and has scored in the Wanderers' past two matches - both victories.

He certainly has the support of Popovic, who believes Bridge has all the attributes required to be a prolific scorer.

"We feel he's a player that should be scoring more consistently," Popovic said on Friday.

"He has the ability to do so and, if his performances continue as they have, we see no reason why he can't get some more goals throughout the year.

"... We certainly hope so. We've been pleased with all of his performances thus far. Now he's got a few goals to show for it."

Bridge is one of five ex-Newcastle players likely to face their former club at Parramatta Stadium as the Wanderers look to consolidate a spot in the top six with a third straight win.

Popovic is wary of the threat posed by the in-form Jets, who sit fourth after three wins from their opening five games.

The match pits one of the league's best attacking sides against the stingy defence of the Wanderers, which has let in just three goals so far this season.

Popovic admits the Wanderers have been doing their homework on Jets' star Emile Heskey.

"We'll do our best to make it a quiet night for him tomorrow," he said.

Wanderers' captain Michael Beauchamp stressed the side were not getting carried away with their impressive start and were reluctant to talk up their chances as finals contenders.

"It's very early and we're excited by the way we're going but there's still a lot more to improve on," the centre back said.

"Each week, we're finding little things we can tweak in the games that we've been playing and, if we can continue to do that, we could be finals chances."

The Wanderers have striker Dino Kresinger fit again but are likely to stick with a winning side, while the Jets will miss midfielder Ben Kantarovski with a knee problem.

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