House for sale, but Bridges keen to stay

ON TARGET: Michael Bridges and Craig Goodwin congratulate Adam Taggart on his goal against Wellington Phoenix last night.  Picture: Getty Images

MICHAEL Bridges has put his Merewether home on the market but the veteran English striker insists he has not given up hope of extending his playing career at the Jets.

Bridges is one of five players whose future is uncertain.

The club has tabled offers to marquee striker Emile Heskey and Swiss defender Dominik Ritter, but Bridges, Marko Jesic, who recently returned from a trial in the US, and little-used Brazilian Bernardo Ribeiro are yet to be offered new deals.

After spending most of the season on the outer, Bridges started in his third straight game against Wellington last night, scoring the second goal in a 2-1 win to cap a brilliant all-round display.

Although 34 and in the twilight of his career, the former Leeds star believes he is as fit as he has ever been. The Jets have spoken to him regarding a role with the Emerging Jets program and indicated they would assess his playing future at the end of the campaign.

‘‘I had a taste of retirement [two years ago] and didn’t fancy it,’’ Bridges said on Monday.  

‘‘I want to keep playing, whether that is here or somewhere else.

‘‘We have put the house on the market to keep our options open.

‘‘Ideally, I get another contract here, but if something else comes up, I want to be in position to take it up. It would also be nice to have some money in the bank.’’

Bridges has contacts in England and is likely to return home if there is nothing in the A-League. 

‘‘I have a number of mates who are managers at clubs now. I just want to keep playing.’’

Heskey’s retention remains the Jets’ priority.

‘‘We have had discussions with his agent and gone that step further and tabled a formal offer,’’ chief executive Robbie Middleby said.

‘‘It is not just about the offer. It is complicated with his family and with them being in England.

‘‘There is no definite time frame, but it is something that I know both parties would like to get resolved.’’

Jesic returned from the US on the weekend where he was on trial with New England Revolution and travelled with the squad to Wellington.

The former Olyroos striker came off the bench for his first  A-League appearance this season. 

UK-based agent Ricky Pattenden organised the US trial and is confident of Jesic securing a contract.

‘‘Marko trained with Revolution for a short period and did extremely well,  scoring against New York Red Bulls and impressing in games,’’ Pattenden said.

‘‘We are still in talks with the club as they want to sign him, but as it stands they need to sort a few things out their end before this can happen. ‘‘A few clubs in the MLS have shown interest in him, especially after his performances in the pre-season tournament.’’

Meanwhile, Hunter Sports Group chief Troy Palmer assured Jets fans yesterday that the club’s $1million debt to the Tax Office would be settled by the end of March.

Jets owner Nathan Tinkler last week reached a settlement with the ATO over money owed by the Knights and HSG, but negotiations are continuing in regard to the Jets.

According to documents filed in the Federal Court in Sydney, the Knights owed more than $1.4million to the tax office, the Jets owed just over $1million, while Hunter Sports Group was $184,000 in the red. The ATO has applied for all three to be wound up.

The Jets’ case has been adjourned until April 5.

Palmer and Middleby addressed questions from fans on the club’s website yesterday.

When asked about the tax bill, Palmer replied: ‘‘I can assure you there is nothing to be concerned about. There is a number of matters being negotiated with the ATO. We should have these negotiations finalised by the end of March, but as I said, we have no concerns about the process or outcome.’’

 ●  Nick Montgomery missed an 87th-minute penalty as the Central Coast Mariners started their Asian Champions League campaign with a goalless draw at home against South Korea’s Suwon Bluewings last night.

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