22/04/2024

Reno Piscopo is embracing the tough schedule that the World Cup break will bring. (Image: Newcastle Jets)

Following the Jets’ 2-1 loss to Melbourne City on Saturday, Arthur Papas insisted the World Cup break would be a ‘brutal’ block of training for his side. After a few days off, the squad reconvened for training on Thursday – a double session focusing on fitness and finishing.

The 10am session closed out with a full-team drill built around working the ball up the field with a series of one-touch passes before finishing past a revolving list of goalkeepers.

Similar to their season thus far, the movement up the pitch was fluid until they reached the box, where attackers struggled to put the ball in the back of the net.

Strong feedback from Papas on the quality of finishing reset the squad, and they looked much more comfortable in front of goals when slowing the movements down. They finished the session with a run of goals put past keepers, Michael Weier and Jack Duncan.

Attacking midfielder Reno Piscopo played his best game for Newcastle in the loss to City, and says the squad is looking forward to the month ahead.

“It’s going to be good, we need to start working hard again. We just had a little break but now it’s straight back into things,” Piscopo said.

“It was good to be back out there this morning and get the legs going. The first day isn’t quite over yet, we’re back out there this afternoon and I’m sure that’ll be much harder.”

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In his post-match press conference, Papas made a point to say the team didn’t get the pre-season he wanted, and they needed more matches against A-League competition. Piscopo agreed their preparation could’ve been better, and they have a lot in store over the next four weeks.

“We didn’t have enough friendly games in the pre-season, our training was excellent but that isn’t enough,” he said.

“We’ve got a chance to get more games under our belt, to start again and improve.”

The loss to City marked their third straight loss, and in all three the Newcastle side has failed to score a goal of their own – a Scott Jamieson own goal kept them in touch with the ladder leaders. Piscopo was confident the chances are there, the team just needs to stay consistent and the goals will follow.

“It’s easier said than done, but we just need to fix our mistakes,” he said.

“We need to be more disciplined and more concentrated when going forward.

“We’ve had some good chances in the last three games, I had two really quick ones I probably should have finished. We’re getting the looks, but the goals will come.”

At the other end of the pitch, teenage defender Mark Natta has been happy with the way the side’s been defending despite the losses. He says the confidence amongst the back four hasn’t dropped at all.

“It’s been easy to settle into this defence because we’re all so similar, we all want to play on the ball and keep it,” Natta said.

“It’s been great to have the older guys around to help me develop. Jordan Elsey and Matt Jurman, they’ve played at such a high level for years. And Carl Jenkinson was in the Premier League, so I’ve got great role models here to learn from.”

After coming from Western Sydney Wanderers in the off-season, Natta mentioned a key difference is the level of training, and he can’t wait to see what this month will do for the team.

“The training here is much more intense than anything I’ve been a part of,” he said.

“Every day the standards are so high, it’s hard not to see everyone improving with every session.

“We’ve got a lot to work on in the break, so that’s what we’ll do. It’s gonna be hard work, it was a hard first session, but we’re looking forward to it.”

The Jets will head to Tamworth on Wednesday to host a training camp ahead of their friendly rematch against Melbourne City in the regional town on November 26. Their season is set to resume on December 11 when they travel to play rivals the Central Coast Mariners.

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