W-League: Newcastle back themselves to stop Sam Kerr in must-win clash in Perth

Co-captain Gema Simon knows better than anyone in the Newcastle defence the task ahead against Sam Kerron Saturday night intheir “must-win” clash with Perth.

RIVALRY: Newcastle defender Gema Simon tries to block a shot from W-League superstar Sam Kerr, playing for Sydney FC, in 2012. Picture: Wolter Peeters

And the message from the experienced defender to teammates is to back themselves and be confident against one of the world’s best strikers.

The Jets travelled to Perth on Friday to prepare for Saturday’s round seven clash at Dorrien Gardens from 10pm (AEDT).

Newcastle are eighth on six points, after back-to-back losses to Brisbane and Melbourne City, and take on a second-placed Glory side who sit on nine points.

Kerr, fifth in the inaugural women’s Ballon D’or, leads the W-League with six goals, including a double in a 2-2 draw last week with Adelaide.She scored a hat-trick against the Jets in a 3-3 draw last season and will again be the one Newcastle need to shut down.

Left-back Simon, 28, has been facing Kerr since the inaugural 2008-09 W-League season and has played with her for .

“I think you just can’t give her time, you can’t let her turn on the ball,” Simon said of stopping Kerr.

“She’s a quality player, so if you giveher time and space, she’s going to do some damage.

“I think our girls just need to back themselves and be confident against her, because at the end of the day everyone is human and she’s bound to hopefully make a few mistakes and hopefully our girls are confident enough and can do thejob on her.

“We’ve definitely got to keep an eye on Sam but they’ve gota few other players in their team who are quite dangerous as well.

“Our focus at the moment is us and to make sure we are doing the right things. We definitely respect them but not fear them.”

The Jetshad 1-0 wins over Western Sydney and Canberra before the defeats and sit just two points outside the top four approaching the halfway mark of the season on Saturday night.

They finished third on 20 points, equal with Melbourne City,last season but coach Craig Deans expects a lesser total will be needed to make the top-four finals this campaign given the closenessof the competition. Seven points separate leaders Melbourne Victory (13) and the second-last Jets, who have yet to find their best form.

“We’re still trying to work some things out so it’s definitely helped us,” Simon said of other results keeping the league close.

“There’s definitely a few things we need to work on, like keeping the ball, keeping possession and once we kind of click, I think we’ll be able to get a few more wins.

“It’s atough trip over there but we’ve done it previously so there’s no reason why we can’t do it againand it’s definitely a must-win for us this weekend.”

Arin Wright was missing last week for Newcastle because of hamstring tightness but the tenacious American looks set to return to the starting side.

Elsewhere, Sydney defeated Adelaide 5-2 on Thursday night and Brisbane host Victory from 4pm on Sunday.

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