HEADS, YOU WIN: Jets skipper Ruben Zadkovich is shown some love by the ‘‘Zad’s Lads’’ last night. Picture: Simone De Peak
THE Newcastle Jets of the future were proudly on display last night at Hunter Stadium.
Decked out in blue jackets 170 Emerging Jets squad members sat at the northern end and were paraded around the pitch during half-time.
What also became clear in the middle last night in the 2-0 victory over Melbourne Heart was the future of this Jets campaign must include the English veteran Michael Bridges, rookie Socceroos striker Adam Taggart and home-grown defender Taylor Regan.
The fans have been calling on Jets coach Gary van Egmond for months to include Bridges and within moments of kick-off his quality was on display.
Sure the former Leeds striker has more miles on his legs than a beat-up Kingswood, but his football brain and skills were very much still in tune during his 66 minutes before he was substituted for rookie Mitch Cooper.
Ever since Emile Heskey joined the Jets as their marquee man, fans have been waiting to see the two ex-EPL stars combine.
Last night was the first chance to watch the pair in tandem for an extended period.
Van Egmond rated their combination ‘‘excellent’’.
‘‘Bridgey gives us real smarts in that front third and real smarts in regards to the game,’’ van Egmond said. ‘‘Bridgey also gives some players some real confidence. He just started to run out of legs a little bit, but he’ll get a lot out of that 66 minutes.
‘‘With Emile, he can position himself and look to make runs a little bit better from players who have a little more football nous about them, and it’s not to say our other players haven’t done well, it’s just a little more football from those individuals.’’
When asked about fans questioning why it has taken so long to see Bridges and Heskey together and Taggart in the starting line-up, van Egmond said: ‘‘That’s a fair comment. From my point of view we’ve looked to invest in some other players that have come to the club and we felt they could do a certain job and through injury and suspension and a number of other things it hasn’t gone to plan.’’
Taggart, with his mop of fair hair, he conjures up comparisons with former Golden Boot winner Joel Griffiths.
The 19-year-old is no Griffiths yet, but only the post denied him lighting up Turton Road in the 65th minute for what would have been his first goal for the Jets.
Taggart gave the fans something to cheer 15 minutes later when he accepted a pass from Cooper and knocked it forward to Ryan Griffiths, who slotted home the final goal.
AAP reports: Sydney FC superstar Alessandro Del Piero won’t focus on settling his future with the club until after tonight’s A-league clash with Adelaide.
Del Piero’s brother and adviser Stefano arrived in Sydney yesterday and watched his younger sibling train.
Asked if Stefano’s presence meant there would be an announcement on his future over the next week, Del Piero said, ‘‘Probably – I don’t know ... I want to talk about the game tomorrow then, on Sunday, we can talk.’’