Aloisi glad for Roar's timely ACL distraction

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Brisbane Roar coach John Aloisi believes the AFC Champions League qualifiers have arrived at the right time as an understrength Roar attempt to turn their A-League season around and push for the finals.

After a third-straight loss on Friday night, Aloisi said the January 23 preliminary fixture at home against an unknown opponent would help aid the club's domestic campaign during the second half of 2017-2018.

"I think so and I think that it's a welcome distraction as well in terms of players looking forward to the champions league," Aloisi said.

"We know it's a busy period in terms of games, but players that have been out will get a chance to play.

"We've got a qualifier on the 23rd, hopefully we get through that and then go to China.

"We've seen in the past with teams that have struggled to start the season well that Champions League comes at a good time and gives them a boost, not only in the Champions League but the league as well."

The Roar, second last on the A-League ladder but just five points outside the top six, were beaten 1-0 by the in-form Jets at Newcastle with Jason Hoffman scoring the winner in the 11th minute.

Brisbane welcomed back key trio captain Matt McKay (suspension), defender Avram Papadopoulos (suspension) and substitute Ivan Franjic (injury) on Friday night.

The likes of former Brett Holman (injury), Corey Gameiro (injury), Corey Brown (sick) and Jade North (injury) are not too far away from wearing the orange uniform again.

The injection of fresh troops and improved second-half showing at McDonald Jones Stadium has Aloisi more upbeat than expected.

"We hope to make a really big impact [in the second half of the season]," Aloisi said.

"We still believe we can make finals. The players still believe we can make finals.

"Speaking to a few of them after the game they're disappointed not to come away with anything, but they could see the football we played in the second half was the way forward.

"We just have to make sure we stay positive. It's difficult when you lose or don't get a result to be positive, but I think that second-half performance should give us a boost."

Jets coach Ernie Merrick wants his second-placed squad, who have now scored in all 16 games this season, to concentrate on the remaining 11 rounds and ensure the club does more than simply reach finals for the first time since 2009-2010.

"I think that was the danger today, playing a team that's a bit down on form and complacency would be the price for it," Merrick said.

"Overall I'm really impressed with the boys and their ability to focus on the game at hand and not look any further ahead."

The Jets, who have dropped just five points from their last seven outings, have played four matches in 15 days but now enjoy a week off before hosting cellar dwellers Wellington Phoenix.

Port Macquarie 17-year-old Angus Thurgate made his A-League debut for the Jets off the bench, replacing Andrew Nabbout in the 88th minute.

Merrick, meanwhile, remains confident Patricio Rodriguez will be fit to start against Wellington, despite his star signing sustaining an ankle injury.

The Argentinian recruit, who joined the A-League club during the January transfer window, again started off the bench and looked dangerous attacking down the left edge, but his second-half stint also earned him some heavy treatment.

"Every time Pato got the ball he looked really sensational," Merrick said.

"But he was nailed early on in a tackle and his sock is all ripped. He has hurt his ankle and struggled to run. I didn't want to take him off."

Merrick was unsure how much damage had been done, but was 'hoping' the eight-day turnaround would work in favour of Rodriguez.

Source: AAP

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