THE Newcastle Jets will consider chasing Harry Kewell after the surprise departure of Ryan Griffiths to Chinese club Beijing Baxy.
But even if Jets officials can pull off an undoubted coup by signing the Socceroos veteran, it will not help their chances of appearing in this season’s finals.
With five games remaining in the regular season and Newcastle clinging to sixth rung on the competition ladder, the timing of Griffiths could hardly be worse.
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Anyone who resents Griffiths walking out at such a crucial stage of proceedings should ask themselves what they would do if they were offered a new job on 10 times the salary.
That does not change the fact that Newcastle have farewelled another senior player, just weeks after skipper Jobe Wheelhouse severed ties with his home-town club.
If Wheelhouse and Griffiths had been ruled out with season-ending injuries, it would perhaps be easier for their teammates and fans to accept. But to lose two proven performers in such demoralising circumstances is a double-barrelled setback that may yet prove insurmountable.
The powers-that-be insisted yesterday that they have the depth to replace Griffiths, who has scored nine goals this season – a third of Newcastle’s overall tally.
That remains to be seen.
As for Kewell, by the time next A-League kicks off he will be 35 and have spent 18 months out of the game. His class is undisputed and he would no doubt be a drawcard, especially if he was playing alongside Emile Heskey.
‘‘We’ve talked about Harry Kewell before and he’s been a fabulous player for the A-League,’’ Jets chief executive Robbie Middleby said yesterday.
‘‘So that’s definitely an option . . . potentially he’s a player we could look at.’’
Not for this season, however. That leaves the Jets to play out the rest of this campaign – starting tonight in Wellington – minus two of the men who were regulars in their starting XI.
Even with Griffiths on board, Newcastle appeared only an even-money bet to reach the play-offs.
Now it will take something truly special to defy the odds stacked against them.