Panamanian star to debut for Newcastle Jets in F3 derby

Abdiel Arroyo during the 2018 FIFA World Cup with Panama against England. Source: Getty Images

Newcastle coach Ernick Merrick is hoping to see rivals Central Coast overcome the odds and push for the A-League finals this season.

Central Coast import Ziggy Gordon didn't see the lighter side of his first taste of their A-League rivalry with Newcastle earlier this month.

Jets boss Lawrie McKinna got the early banter going with his former club when he unfurled a Jets club banner prior to the Mariners' FFA Cup loss a fortnight ago.

"That's got nothing to do with myself. I can only concentrate on what I can affect on the pitch. Everything else is just noise," Gordon said.

However, Newcastle coach Ernie Merrick insists there is no bad blood between the only two provincial teams in the A-League who meet again on Saturday night at Central Coast Stadium.

In fact, Merrick, whose side play their first game following their round-one bye, is hoping both sides can overcome the odds and return to the finals together.

And he says history has proven it can be done.

"You're always up against it. Your catchment area for developing players through an academy is smaller, budgets are often smaller," Merrick said.

"But that hasn't stopped them both from being in grand finals.

"Lawrie McKinna was in two grand finals with the Mariners and one with Newcastle, and Newcastle won that one.

"To me that speaks volumes for the Mariners and Newcastle. And of course Graham Arnold won a grand final as well with the Mariners.

"So two teams that do really well."

Panamanian striker Abdiel Arroyo is set make his league debut for the Jets on Saturday night, as will former Mariners winger Matt Millar and Hearts loanee Bobby Burns.

"He's a threat and a good pick-up for them, so yeah we have looked at him. He's going to be a weapon for them this year," Mariners coach Alen Stajcic said.

"So it's something we're going to have to watch out for."

Central Coast are banking on some continuity after coming through unscathed from their gritty season-opening loss to Western Sydney.

They also get skipper Matthew Simon back from suspension.

STATS THAT MATTER

* The Mariners snapped a five-game losing streak against the Jets with a 3-2 victory in their last meeting against their rivals.

* The Mariners are looking at consecutive wins at Central Coast Stadium for the first time since April-October 2015.

* The Jets have won five of their past six A-League games at Central Coast Stadium, scoring an average four goals a game in those wins.

Source AAP