NorthEast United FC will be looking for their second victory of the season when they take on Jamshedpur FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium on Saturday. A win can take the Highlanders within touching distance of the Red Miners, while the visitors could go level on points with East Bengal FC if they nab their third win of the season.

It has been a tough season for NorthEast United FC, as they’ve registered just one win and one draw out of 16 Hero ISL games. Last week, two quick-fire goals gave Kerala Blasters FC a 2-0 win against the Highlanders.

Wilmar Gil was unavailable last week as he was serving a suspension. The Colombian will be back and available to start the game against Jamshedpur FC, giving head coach Vincenzo Annese a much-needed boost.

However, to include Gil in the starting XI, Annese will have to bench one of the other attacking foreign players, one of whom is new signing Joseba Beitia. The Italian coach could likely bench either Romain Philippoteaux or Kule Mbombo to bring his striker back into the lineup. (Club statistics)

“We need to stimulate ourselves to close the gap to them [Jamshedpur FC]. The fact that we have a chance to do that is a source of great motivation for us. Secondly, we are playing at home, where we have done well after my arrival,” said Annese. “At home, we have taken points off ATK Mohun Bagan and FC Goa, so we hope to do the same in the next game because the entire team needs it,” he added.

Jamshedpur FC were on the verge of beating Mumbai City FC last week before two late goals turned the game on its head. The Red Miners controlled the tempo of the game and were a menace for the Islanders until the 80th minute.

The 2021-22 Hero ISL Shield holders are out of the playoff race this season and the game against NorthEast United FC could be one of few chances for Aidy Boothroyd’s men to pick up three points before facing playoff and title contenders in the final three fixtures of the season.

Boris Singh scored his second goal of the campaign last week and that has put him in contention to start the game against NorthEast United FC. Daniel Chukwu registered his first assist of the season in the same play and is also expected to start in front of Harry Sawyer. (Club statistics)

“Both clubs have had a difficult season, but that is when you get to see the true test of individuals and the entire team. We are doing nothing other than concentrating on every single game, trying to win. We want to finish the season strong,” said Boothroyd. “Last year was a very good season, but we are in a transitional year now. We just want to finish the season as strong as we can,” he added.

In the last 11 Hero ISL meetings between these two sides, Jamshedpur FC have won five, while NorthEast United FC have won only once. Five games have ended in draws. In the reverse fixture earlier this season, The Red Miners beat the Highlanders 1-0. (Hero ISL standings)