Culina challenges Jets to keep standard
Newcastle Jets coach Branko Culina has challenged his players to overcome the challenge of a three-game week and keep their standards high.
Having defeated Melbourne 3-2 on Sunday despite being down to 10-men for most of the fixture, the fourth-placed Jets now take on an A-League double header in Queensland.
First up is a trip to Skilled Stadium to take on third-placed Gold Coast United on Wednesday night before Saturday's visit to Suncorp Stadium to play Brisbane.
And having won six of their past eight games, Culina said he expects his team to keep their good form going despite the gruelling schedule.
"When you set a certain standard you've got to try and maintain it," Cullina said.
"Our motto is we can now go into every game knowing we can win. So why would you accept anything else?"
Despite his positive intent going into the match against Gold Coast, who Newcastle have already beaten twice this season, Culina admitted he will have to manage his squad carefully throughout the next three games.
One player he's paying particular attention too is English striker Michael Bridges, who returned from a hamstring injury to score in the win over the Victory at EnergyAustralia Stadium.
Having already suffered for rushing the former Leeds United and Sunderland star back from injury too quickly in the past, Culina admitted a full game for Bridges against the Gold Coast might be too much too soon.
"We've got to be careful with him," Culina said.
"We had a similar situation last time against Sydney FC where he played superbly well and then in the following game against Adelaide he came off after eight minutes.
"It's going to be touch and go, just wait and see. He's probably one of those players that I don't expect to see play all three games."
Culina also admitted he would have to monitor strike duo Sean Rooney and Labinot Haliti as well as midfielder Jobe Wheelhouse after all three pulled up sore following the Victory match.
Temperatures are expected to top 30 degrees for Wednesday's match, meaning fitness will definitely be an issue for Culina's men.
Dutch defender Bas van den Brink believes United's extra day of rest after their 1-1 draw against Adelaide on Saturday could prove the edge over the Jets.
"They will be a bit more tired than us after playing on Sunday in that heat and with ten men," van den Brink told United's website.
"We have to get the result we need and we believe we can do it, so it's up to us to make our advantage count."
Wednesday's match kicks off at 7.30pm AEST (8.30pm AEDT).