AS the Jets close in on the signature of an overseas striker, one of the current crop, Michael Bridges, has suffered an injury setback.
The 33-year-old Englishman damaged his hamstring at training on Saturday.
The Herald has been told Bridges felt a twinge in the muscle. The injury was serious enough for him not to join several of his teammates and coach Gary van Egmond at a Men of Football reunion dinner on Saturday night.
Van Egmond revealed at the dinner that he was close to signing a striker and hoped to have the deal sealed in the next 48 hours.
The Jets have two places left on their roster for imports.
Finding a striker has been the priority.
The release last month of Nikolai Topor-Stanley freed about $250,000.
Since then the Jets have recruited Josh Mitchell and Swiss defender Dominik Ritter, but the Herald understands they still have plenty of room under the salary cap.
The marquee position is also available.
Apart from an experienced No.9, van Egmond hopes to add an attacking midfielder to the list, but he said on Saturday the Jets were not close to filling that position.
Former Scotland international Mark Burchill is halfway through a week’s trial, but the Herald understands the 31-year-old is not the striker to whom van Egmond referred.
Recommended to Jets chief executive Robbie Middleby by Robbie Fowler, Burchill paid his own way to Newcastle after leaving Thai Premier League club Insee Police United.
The frontman burst onto the scene at 19 at Scottish giants Celtic 14 years ago but in recent years has drifted around the lower leagues. He had two years in Cyprus before heading to Thailand.
The Jets’ trial against Charlestown City on Wednesday has been cancelled.
They will instead play an intraclub trial, which will be the final chance for Burchill to press his claims.
Bridges had been relatively injury free since coming out of retirement in November. He played 17 games, four as a starter, and scored two goals last season.
He has been used as a substitute in the Jets’ past two trial wins, over Canberra Rockets (9-1) and Northern NSW Select (6-0).
Though he did not get on the score sheet against Northern – he was denied by some outstanding goalkeeping from Brad Swancott and replacement Nathan Archibald – the former Premier League star produced a sublime piece of skill to set up Mitch Oxborrow.
The Jets’ next competitive hit-out is another clash against Northern NSW at Jack McLaughlan Oval on August 8.