Rudan wants big ALM finish

Finals hopes seemingly dashed for another year, Mark Rudan is challenging Western Sydney Wanderers players to prove themselves in the closing weeks of the A-League Men season.

The Wanderers blew a two-goal lead against Central Coast last Wednesday as the Mariners snatched a last-gasp 2-2 draw, despite playing half of the game with 10 men.

That result left Rudan’s team 10th on the ladder with just five games to play, including Wednesday’s visit by ninth-placed Newcastle, whose own finals hopes are on the line after their heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Melbourne Victory last Saturday.

The most realistic scenario for the Wanderers is a fifth-straight campaign without finals football but Rudan doesn’t want his players to think it’s time to clock off.

“I’m still assessing them,” he said.

“I want them to do it for themselves first and foremost because as players it is their career.

“We’re just there to be at a service for them and to help them grow as part of their journey but ultimately it’s their careers.

“They can either make things harder or easier for me.

“If they all do the right things, they all come in there with a great attitude and train hard and want to be part of it, it makes my job harder.

“We’re striving to win all of those games irrespective … (but) they’ve got to do it for themselves first and foremost.”

Bouncing back from last week’s discouraging result against the Mariners, with Dan Hall’s stoppage-time equaliser leaving the Wanderers’ players floored, will be the major challenge for Rudan against the Jets.

He’s convinced, by what he’s seen, that the Wanderers players are ready to put that disappointment behind them against an opponent equally eager after Victory stole a win with a stoppage-time winner by Italian Francesco Margiotta at McDonald Jones Stadium.

“They’ve picked themselves up and there’s still games to play and there’s still a lot to play for as far as I’m concerned,” Rudan said.

Newcastle will be bolstered by the return of captain Matthew Jurman and midfielder Angus Thurgate, who both missed the loss to the Victory due to suspension.