Gary van Egmond considers midfield move for Tiago

BRAZILIAN defender Tiago has emerged as an option in midfield for the Jets.

The 31-year-old Botafago product played 21 games last season in the heart of the Newcastle defence.

With centre-back partner Nikolai Topor-Stanley released to Western Sydney Wanderers, it was expected that Tiago would assume the senior role at the back.

But the addition of Josh Mitchell and Dominik Ritter and the progression of tyros Connor Chapman and Taylor Regan has allowed coach Gary van Egmond to experiment. Tiago was pushed forward into a holding midfield role, a position usually filled by Ben Kantarovski, for the first 30 minutes of the first XI’s 2-0 victory over the youth team in an intraclub trial at Ray Watt Oval yesterday.

‘‘We’ve got plenty of cover as far as the back is concerned and it’s another option that I thought we’d have a look at,’’ van Egmond said of Tiago’s switch.

‘‘I thought he did OK.

‘‘What he does is provide a lot of leadership and is a good talker in regards to the information he gives to the other midfielders and forwards ... when and when not to press.

‘‘That side of it was really good. He’s obviously very comfortable on the ball. All in all he did well.’’

Kantarovski started in a more advanced role in a 4-1-2-3 formation before shifting back to his preferred spot for the second of the 30-minute thirds. Tiago dropped back into defence.

The former Young Socceroos captain struggled for consistency last season. Too often he put his defence under pressure with turnovers when playing out.

‘‘For Kanta it’s about getting into position and making sure his touch is where he wants it,’’ van Egmond said.

‘‘Sometimes the ball is going in the air, it is two or three touches to get it down.

‘‘By then opposition defences are in a position to close him down.

‘‘He has to be a lot cleaner with his touches and passing. ‘‘He has to ensure the position he gets into gives him more time on the ball.

‘‘He is getting a lot better in regards to knowing his next pass and playing forward.’’

The workload in midfield requires a different fitness to that at the back. Tiago has trimmed down noticeably but does not have the same mobility as his younger teammate.

‘‘I want to have a look at the video and we will see where we go,’’ van Egmond said.

‘‘Tiago played 30 minutes but we are yet to see him over 90. Whether we try him again will depend how we feel things are at the back as well.’’

Ritter sat out yesterday’s hit-out with a minor quadriceps strain.

The Jets’ front third stocks are set to be bolstered with van Egmond confirming they were very close to signing an attacking midfielder from overseas.

‘‘I won’t say it is a fait accompli but negotiations are at the final stage,’’ van Egmond said.

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