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Jones upbeat despite second Jets loss

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 5/11/2016 Cathy Walshe

A promising cameo from Andrew Nabbout and impressive work from rookie defender John Koutroumbis have left Newcastle Jets coach Mark Jones cautiously upbeat despite a 2-0 defeat to Wellington Phoenix.

A first-half double from Roy Krishna was enough for the Phoenix to secure their first win of the A-League season at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.

After opening the season with two draws and a win, Newcastle have drifted down to sixth on the ladder following back-to-back losses to Sydney FC and Wellington.

While the result was disappointing, Jones says there are still some positives to take from the performance as the Jets look to regroup ahead of their sixth-round match against Melbourne City on Thursday.

Winger Nabbout managed a solid 25 minutes without incident, and looks to be recovering well from a groin strain suffered in Newcastle's 2-2 draw with Western Sydney Wanderers.

"Andrew's had a good start to the season for us, and obviously it's been disappointing not having him, but he came on and was dangerous."

Eighteen-year-old Koutroumbis, partnering skipper Nigel Boogaard in central defence, also earned a nod of approval from Jones.

"Young Johnny did a good job for his first full game in the A-League, I thought he was very good," Jones said.

"We've got a lot of injuries in terms of defence. We're starting to get numbers back at the top of the field, which puts pressure on people to hold their positions, but at the back we're very thin at the moment."

Utility defender Ben Kantarovski is a chance to return earlier than expected from a torn meniscus, but centre-backs Lachlan Jackson (ankle) and Daniel Mullen (knee) look set for more lengthy spells.

Newcastle face Melbourne City, beaten 1-0 on Friday by Brisbane Roar, next week and Jones says his team will need to work harder for control in the midfield.

Against Sydney FC and the Phoenix, he says, the Jets were sloppy in conceding possession too easily.

"We turned over possession in areas where we shouldn't," he said.

"We played out better from the back today than we did against Sydney, so that was positive.

"But conceding two goals is not good enough."

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