Devante Clut would love to celebrate his 21st birthday by beating Brisbane on Sunday but says he will not be motivated by proving a point to his former club.
Clut joined the Jets in April after struggling for game time in Brisbane last season under John Aloisi. He scored a stunning volley on his Roar debut in 2014 but played only 81 minutes last season.
The former Young Socceroo earned an early opportunity to shine for his new club when he replaced injured striker Aleksandr Kokko 37 minutes into last week’s 1-1 draw with Adelaide.
Clut played as a striker, combining well with attacking midfielder Wayne Brown, as the two had done throughout the pre-season while Kokko and Danish import Morten Nordstrand recovered from injuries.
Coach Mark Jones said on Thursday that Nordstrand could come into the starting side in place of Kokko on Sunday, but Clut would be “unfortunate” to be back on the bench.
“I was more than happy when Devante came on. We were as big a threat, if not more of a threat, more mobile, we pressed better,” Jones said. “He probably did enough to keep his spot, but it would be difficult not to start Morten. He gives you that X-factor.”
After a stop-start beginning to his career, Clut feels he has a lot to prove, but not just to the Roar.
“I think I could have been given a lot more opportunities in different ways, I guess, but I haven’t really thought much back to it, because that will hold me back,” he said.
“It’s just another game and another opportunity to prove myself to the rest of the league. If I was to be thinking so much about them, then I’d lose my game and the way I should be playing.
“I’m just focusing on the Jets now, because they’re my family and they’re my team.”
Kokko is a traditional tall target man, whereas the 175cm Clut is a different proposition for opposing defences. He believed he could work effectively in concert with Brown and Nordstrand, who have similar physical attributes.
“Throughout pre-season and when Scott Miller was around, that was our combination, with Wayne Brown,” he said. “I think it makes it hard for teams to judge us. It makes us a little less straightforward.
“You’ve got Wayne, who can play high and be dangerous, and I’m the same. It gives us a bit more versatility, that difference to other teams that will be hard to read.”
Clut said he had responded well to Jones’s leadership.
“He talks to the players, he communicates. I think he’s done well considering the circumstances he’s been thrown into.
“One of the main things is I’m focusing on is trying to be consistent. I think that’s one of the hardest things to do. If we can be consistent and I can be consistent, that’s when the results will start to show.”
The Jets’ failure to protect a lead against Adelaide, and inability to eke out three points, was all too familiar for Newcastle supporters, but Clut was positive the team were on the right track.
“The team itself is very different to other years,” he said. “It’s been round one, it’s done. It was always going to be a tough first round, but this season is going to be good.