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Feb 21, 2008

Jets target revenge as jabs continue

Newcastle skipper Jade North left no doubt the Jets would be out for revenge in Sunday's A-League grand final against Central Coast as the taunting between the bitter rivals continued.

North, who last month caused a stir in the Mariners camp when he branded Lawrie McKinna's side the "worst" passing team in the league, on Thursday questioned Central Coast's ability to back up their fighting words in what is expected to be an explosive F3 derby.

"I make comments, but I back it up, so if they're going to make comments they've got to back it up as well, so it will be interesting to see how it goes on Sunday," said North, whose Jets beat the Mariners 2-0 in the first leg of the major semi-final the day after his inflammatory remarks.

"I said what I said and I backed it up didn't I? So let's see if they can back it up."

Outspoken Central Coast striker Sasho Petrovski, in particular, has hit a raw nerve with the Jets this week by suggesting Newcastle were fortunate to win the preliminary final against Queensland.

The Roar's young stars butchered several great scoring chances early in the game, with Petrovski claiming the Jets would not have been so lucky had he and Mariners striker partner John Aloisi been playing.

Jets coach Gary van Egmond hit back by declaring Petrovski was "not the sharpest tool in the shed", while North continued the attack on Thursday by taking a swipe at the 32-year-old's agility.

"Yeah, but those players who had chances can run, let's see if he can step up to the plate," North bristled.

With the Jets' insipid 3-0 loss to Central Coast a fortnight ago in the second leg of the major semi still fresh in the memory banks, North claimed his side were keen to unleash the ultimate revenge on their rivals in the grand final.

"(Revenge) is one of the biggest thoughts in the back of our minds," North said.

"No one likes to go down 3-0, especially to your biggest rivals.

"Revenge is a very powerful word and you can look at it in many ways, but obviously the boys are pretty fired up about this game.

"We've had some great success all over the year, some great wins and the fans have been brilliant ... so what a day to take revenge out on them."

Van Egmond on Thursday denied speculation about several off-contract players was proving a distraction in the build up to the decider.

More than a half-dozen Jets players are rumoured to be heading to A-League rivals next season, with reports other players are unhappy that the club are not using the $450,000 available in third-party sponsorship to keep the bulk of their current squad.

Van Egmond said talk of a "player revolt" was an exaggeration.

"There is no such talk in our training sessions at all," he said.

"Obviously you want to try and ensure that we keep the group together. It's a very young group and it's a group that if you did keep together for another three or four years obviously you're always going to be putting yourself in the mix to get success.

"But we have restraints and every club has them."

Central Coast had the day off training on Thursday with the club hopeful midfielder Tom Pondeljak, who is struggling with a knee injury, will be right to resume practice on Friday.

Mark Shield will referee his third straight A-League grand final after being handed the whistle ahead of fellow top Australian official Matthew Breeze.

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