Jets fuel up for early take-off tomorrow

NEW boys Scott Neville and James Brown are likely to feature in a near-full strength Newcastle Jets outfit for the opening pre-season hit-out against Northern NSW State League leaders Broadmeadow Magic at Wanderers Oval tomorrow night.

Captain Jobe Wheelhouse (foot) is the only Jets player unavailable, and assistant coach Craig Deans said they intended to hit the ground running.

‘‘We will pick the best team we can,’’ Deans told the Herald yesterday.

‘‘At this stage an hour minimum would be a reasonable target for them to get through.

‘‘The trial games are there to work on what you are trying to achieve.

‘‘Wednesday is the first game of the new season for us and we need to start showing signs of what we want to achieve come the A-League season.’’

Neville and Brown are the club’s biggest signings to date and are expected to team up on one flank – Neville at right back and Brown on the right of a front three.

The match, which kicks off at 6.30pm under the new lights at Wanderers Oval, is the first of four against local opposition.

They play two games against Northern NSW select teams, to be coached by Damian Smith and Steve Piggott, at Darling St Oval on July 18 and Jack McLaughlan Oval on August 8.

Sandwiched in between is a hit-out against Charlestown City at Lisle Carr Oval on July 25.

The Jets have been in pre-season training for nearly six weeks.

‘‘The first four weeks were more about fitness, although we have worked a bit on the structure because we’ve been using the ball the whole time,” Deans said.

‘‘Last week we looked at breaking the game down again into different aspects.

‘‘Wednesday is a good opportunity to start working on the particular things we’d like to see happen.’’

Contract hopefuls Lee Seung-yong and Josh Mitchell are expected to start at left back and centre-back respectively.

Initially Newcastle-born Mitchell had been training to improve his fitness but the departure of Nikolai Topor-Stanley has created an opportunity.

Deans compared Lee to a young Byun Sung-hwan, who played left back for the Jets last season.

‘‘He is like Byun in a lot of ways,’’ Deans said.

‘‘He is strong with both feet, technically he is good, his passing is good, his understanding of the game is good, his language is a bit of an issue, but that is something we can work through.

‘‘We just need to see him in a game situation. Hopefully Wednesday we get to see a bit more of him.’’

Apart from a host of fresh faces, the Jets will also unveil a tweaked formation, playing a 4-1-2-3 rather than the twin screeners they used last season in a 4-2-3-1 shape.

‘‘We have been looking at one holding midfielder with two in front, which gives you more options going forward and a bit more flexibility,’’ Deans said.

‘‘We want to play a game where we have the majority of the ball and are able to create goal-scoring opportunities.’’

Jets likely (4-1-2-3): Ben Kennedy; Scott Neville, Tiago, Josh Mitchell, Lee Seung-yong; Ben Kantarovski; Ruben Zadkovich, Jacob Pepper; James Brown, Michael Bridges, Ryan Griffiths

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