Coach Craig Deans says Newcastle can't settle for simply being competitive after the A-League strugglers saw their winless run extended to 11 games.

Last-placed Newcastle haven't won since beating fellow cellar dwellers Melbourne Victory 1-0 on February 21 and they suffered another 3-1 loss to leaders Melbourne City on Thursday.

Things won't get much easier with games against second-placed Sydney and third-placed Central Coast Mariners next up, but Deans demanded more than just spirited efforts.

"We have to be careful about being happy to be competitive," he said.

"I don't think anyone that is in professional sports is happy to be competitive and say, 'We had a crack, we only lost by one - Melbourne City's a good team, we only lost by two'.'

"The whole point is to win games and points and (in 16 of 20 games) it's either been a one-goal loss or a draw or a win for us.

"So that's really frustrating for the players and it's frustrating for the club and the supporters that we are close, but we need to find a way to get to that next level - and quickly."

The Jets haven't kept a clean sheet in those 11 games and Deans emphasised the need to tighten things up at the back.

"We need to start keeping clean streets again," Deans said.

"The period where we had some success was based on three clean sheets in five games."

The Jets are hopeful of regaining on-loan attacker Ramy Najjarine (ankle), who couldn't have faced parent club City anyway, and Connor O'Toole against Sydney next Saturday.

Skipper Nigel Boogaard could potentially return after he was on the bench against City while Roy O'Donovan (yellow card suspension) will be available.