Jets' Jobe Wheelhouse faces surgery

JETS captain Jobe Wheelhouse will have foot surgery on Monday but the home-grown midfielder remains enthusiastic about a pre-season that nearly did not eventuate.

The Jets began preparing for the 2012-13 A-League campaign at Ray Watt Oval yesterday, bringing an end to a tumultuous off-season in which owner Nathan Tinkler threatened to hand back the A-League licence to Football Federation Australia.

Wheelhouse admitted he held grave concerns for the club and said it was a relief to get the squad together for the first time.

‘‘It was a bit of a shock to everyone at the end of last season when [Hunter Sports Group CEO] Troy Palmer and [Jets CEO] Robbie Middleby came in and told us what was happening,’’ Wheelhouse said.

‘‘It was a sad time. The first couple of weeks it was hard to get away and take your mind off things.

‘‘You weren’t sure if we were going to be here or if it would be another club.

‘‘But we are glad to be back and happy that the Jets are here.’’

The uncertainty over the club’s future forced Wheelhouse to delay surgery to remove a bursa from the outside of his left foot.

The injury had troubled the luckless playmaker for months and he played the second half of last season with the aid of pain-killing injections.

‘‘I don’t want another season of needles and wearing a modified boot,’’ Wheelhouse said.

‘‘Hopefully I’m not out too long. It’s just the scar and where it is at that will take time.

‘‘I should be back in full training in a month.’’

Wheelhouse said he had become accustomed to ‘‘something happening off the pitch’’ at the Jets but was hopeful it ‘‘had been sorted now’’.

‘‘The most important thing is that there is a team here and we are ready to go,’’ he said.

‘‘We just want to train hard and do the business.

‘‘We had a really good squad last year and under-achieved, in my opinion.

‘‘We have brought some good boys in and there is no reason why we can’t push for a top-four spot.’’

Wheelhouse was especially looking forward to playing alongside Gold Coast arrival and excitement machine James Brown.

‘‘He has done some really good things against us in the past and hopefully he can produce that for us this year,’’ Wheelhouse said.

Brown was one of four new faces yesterday along with Josh Brillante (Gold Coast), Adam Taggart and Scott Neville (both Perth).

It was somewhat of a disrupted first day back on the job for the Jets.

Craig Goodwin (Melbourne Heart) and Mark Birighitti (Adelaide United) are yet to arrive and defender Tiago is not due to return from Brazil for another fortnight.

Ben Kantarovski had surgery on his nose on Thursday and sat out training.

Brown (ankle) worked alongside Wheelhouse in the rehabilitation group. Ruben Zadkovich (knee) and Nikolai Topor-Stanley (Achilles) were also on light duties.

Assistant coach Craig Deans took the session in the absence of Gary van Egmond, who is in Sydney this week doing a UEFA Pro Licence.

In a change to recent pre-seasons, the ball was used throughout out the 70-minute session.

‘‘Things have changed in the past five years. There are no sand dunes, no awful road running for hours ... everything is done with the ball,’’ Deans said.

‘‘It gives the guys an opportunity to meet the new players and to start forming some understanding on the field with the ball rather than running up and down hills.’’

Deans said the Jets had planned some trial games but only a couple against Northern NSW State League sides.

Veteran Englishman Michael Bridges trained yesterday but is yet to put pen to paper on a new deal.

‘‘Bridgey is happy to be here and we want him here,’’ Deans said.

‘‘He just has to sort out his personal details with the club, and hopefully that gets done in the next week or two.’’

Not including Bridges, the Jets have filled 18 of a maximum 23 places on their roster.

They have been linked with a move to Mariners wonder boy Tomas Rogic but Deans said apart from the addition of a couple of quality experienced players the squad was full.

‘‘My take on Rogic was that he was waiting for Arnie to sign at the Mariners,’’ Deans said.

‘‘We need to sign two good players.

‘‘We just need to go through the right process of identifying those people and make sure they are the people we want.

‘‘We have four months before the start of the season.’’

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