JOSH Mitchell started training with the Newcastle Jets this week to shed some holiday kilograms.
Now the 28-year-old Newcastle-born centre-back looms as a replacement for Nikolai Topor-Stanley.
In a stunning development, Topor-Stanley was released from the final year of his contract yesterday and is expected to link with new A-League franchise West Sydney as early as Monday.
Mitchell, who can play across the backline, has spent the past two seasons at Perth, playing 35 games, 27 as a starter.
He was on the bench but did not get on in the Glory’s 2-1 grand final loss to Brisbane Roar.
The Broadmeadow Magic junior played for Newcastle United in the old national soccer league when van Egmond was an assistant coach to Ian Crook.
He spent four years in Romania before joining the Glory. A free agent, he has returned from a European holiday and been staying at his parents’ house in Caves Beach.
What had been a chance to get in shape at the Jets is now a full-blown trial.
Mitchell partnered Tiago in the heart of defence during a 30-minute intra-club game at training yesterday.
Both he and Korean left back Lee Seung-yong are expected to start in the club’s first pre-season hit-out against Broadmeadow at Wanderers Oval on Wednesday.
Topor-Stanley’s exit leaves Brazilian Tiago and youngsters Taylor Regan, Sam Gallaway and apprentice Connor Chapman as the recognised centre-backs on the Jets roster.
The 27-year-old informed teammates of his move at the end of training yesterday, bringing an end to months of speculation.
The Herald understands the defender was keen to see out his contract but saw the writing on the wall.
Van Egmond, who brought Topor-Stanley to Newcastle on the eve of the Asian Champions League campaign in 2009, was unavailable for comment yesterday.
He rejected claims last week that that Topor-Stanley and Tiago had been shopped around, but foreshadowed possible changes to the squad.
‘‘From our point of view we are committed to them,’’ he told the Herald. ‘‘From what they are showing in their application to training they are committed to us. But, again, you never know.’’
In a statement yesterday, Jets chief executive Robbie Middleby thanked the 2010-11 player of the year for his contribution and wished him well for the future.
“He is a good footballer and this is a wonderful opportunity for Nikolai to continue his career at another club,” Middleby said.
When contacted yesterday Topor-Stanley declined to comment until his playing future had been finalised.
West Sydney have a press conference scheduled on Monday at which they will announce club name, logo and the first round of player signings.
Then Melbourne Victory coach Jim Magilton had shown interest in Topor-Stanley towards the end of last season but he is favoured to join former teammates Tarek Elrich and Labinot Haliti in western Sydney.
The exit of Topor-Stanley combined with the release of Elrich, Haliti, Kasey Wehrman, Francis Jeffers, Ali Abbas, Byun Sung-hwan and Jeremy Brockie has freed up a big chunk of the Jets’ salary cap. Topor-Stanley is unlikely to be the last contracted player to go.
Tiago and striker Marko Jesic have been linked to moves, and van Egmond has said they would treat every case on its merits.
The Jets have up to five places to fill on the roster, including three visa players.
Until now, James Brown (Gold Coast) and Scott Neville (Perth) are the club’s biggest signings. The rest are promising but unproven youngsters.