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Socceroos hopefuls face off at Gosford

In-form strikers John Aloisi and Joel Griffiths go head to head in Saturday night's A-League derby between Central Coast and Newcastle but could soon find themselves side by side in the green and gold.

The pair meet in a crucial match at Bluetongue Stadium that could see the league-leading Mariners plant one hand firmly on the minor premiership.

The fourth-placed Jets also have plenty to play for and can assure a finals berth with a win, which would also end the slim finals hopes of Melbourne and Adelaide.

The battle between Griffiths and Aloisi shapes up as an intriguing one with many, including Mariners coach Lawrie McKinna, tipping the pair to lead Australia in next month's World Cup qualifier against Qatar.

"That should be the Socceroos strike partnership in a few weeks time down in Melbourne," McKinna said.

"Joel's the top scorer in the league (with 10 goals) and John's scored six goals in 10 games.

"It'd be a great combination they could have in the national team with John's leadership and the way he holds up the ball and Griffiths' pace.

"It will be interesting to watch the two of them up against each other."

Griffiths needs two more goals to pass Victory striker Daniel Allsopp's regular A-League season record of 11 and is also looking to shake off Wellington's Shane Smeltz (nine goals) for this season's golden boot award.

The Mariners meanwhile, hold a one-point competition lead from Sydney FC and Queensland but have managed only a draw and two losses in their past three matches.

McKinna was confident last week's hard-fought 1-1 draw in Perth would help the leaders turn around their form.

"Going to Perth, being a hard road trip, we were quite happy coming away with a point," McKinna said.

"So we feel as though we stabilised things and this weekend we look to build on that and build that confidence going into the finals."

McKinna is boosted this week by the return of experienced defenders Tony Vidmar and Andrew Clark from suspension but has lost Nigel Boogaard (groin), with fellow defender Greg Owens (hamstring) also in doubt.

The Jets have their own concerns with defender Adam Griffiths suspended and Stephen Laybutt out with a virus.

A bumper crowd is expected for what McKinna calls the "F3 derby".

"It's a huge game," McKinna said.

"We've got two home games left and if we win the two home games we'll win the minor premiership and to have a game like this with your nearest rivals - it's like a cup tie."