Wheelhouse close to A-League return

FORMER Jets captain Jobe Wheelhouse hopes to have his playing future settled by early next week.

Wheelhouse’s manager, Joel Grennell, said yesterday that an A-League franchise had expressed interest in signing the 27-year-old midfielder and he would hold contract negotiations this weekend.

‘‘I won’t name the club, but it’s fair to say there is mutual interest,’’ Grennell told the  Herald yesterday.

‘‘It wouldn’t be for this season.

‘‘Jobe has decided to take some time out to clear his head. He’s up in Crescent Head fishing this week.

‘‘But he’s decided he wants to keep playing and hopefully we can work something out over the weekend.’’

Wheelhouse quit the Jets three weeks ago after the club could not guarantee he would be retained at the end of the season.

At the time he said he had lost his passion for the game and was unsure if he would continue his career or hang up the boots.

But with 106 A-League games to his name, the Toronto-Awaba junior was always likely to have options if he put himself on the market.

Meanwhile, Jets coach Gary van Egmond was noncommittal yesterday about re-signing veteran striker Michael Bridges for next season.

Bridges has made it clear he wants to go around again and did his retention chances no harm in last week’s 2-0 win against Melbourne Heart, which was his first run in the starting line-up for almost a year.

But by the time next season kicks off, the English import will be 35 and van Egmond appears content to wait and see what he produces in coming weeks.

‘‘There’s been no decision made, right at this moment,’’ he said. ‘‘We have spoken to Bridgey, preliminary, in regards to life after football.

‘‘If you have someone like Bridgey who can offer a lot of different things, in terms of the networks that he has and his aspirations in a coaching capacity, there’s obviously an opportunity here at the club. As far as playing, it’s one game at a time and we’ll see how things pan out.’’

Asked if he thought Bridges had another season left in his oft-repaired legs, van Egmond replied: ‘‘By the end of the year we’ll know a lot more, from our point of view and Michael’s point of view.’’

Bridges has played 48 games  for Newcastle,  scoring nine goals.

This season he has made nine appearances.  

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