A-League: Jack Duncan in box seat after talks with high-profile keepers break down

FRONT OF THE QUEUE: Jets goalkeeper Jack Duncan stretches at a recovery session at The Forum on Monday. Picture: Simone De Peak

FRONT OF THE QUEUE: Jets goalkeeper Jack Duncan stretches at a recovery session at The Forum on Monday. Picture: Simone De Peak

JACK Duncan arrived at the Jets in June as a back-up to Ben Kennedy. Now the ambitious gloveman has the chance to cement himself as the club’s long-term No.1.

Kennedy had surgery on Friday to repair the Achilles tendon he ruptured at training earlier this month and faces at least nine months on the sideline.

Former Socceroo Ante Covic was in the frame to replace Kennedy, but talks with the veteran and Australian-born Tottenham Hotspur young gun Tom Glover have broken down.

Well-travelled former Wollongong shot-stopper Tomislav Arbaca trained with the Jets on Monday and is now the frontrunner to come on to the roster.

“Ante wasn’t able to commit in the end,” Jets coach Mark Jones said. “It would have been a good option, but if it can’t be done, it can’t be done and we move to the next one.”

Agent Joel Grenell, who was representing Glover in talks with the Jets, said the teenager was keen for the move but Tottenham blocked it.

“Tottenham do not believe he is ready to go out on loan at this stage,” Grennel said. “He is training every day with their Premier League keepers and they want to continue to develop him at the club.”

Arbaca, recommended by former Jets coach Branko Culina, has returned to Australia after a short stint in Serbia.

The 30-year-old played under Culina at NSW National Premier League club Rockdale for two seasons, and prior to that had stints in Serbia, Romania and Ireland, but has been predominantly a back up.

Jets goal-keeper coach Jess Vanstrattan wants someone capable of pushing Duncan.

“Jess has had a look at Tomi and was impressed with his technique,” Jones said. “He is athletic and has a bit of experience. He will train for the next couple of days and we will take things from.”

Youth team keeper Pierce Clark has sat on the bench in the opening two rounds of the A-League.

Duncan, after a nervous start in the season opener, was strong in the crushing win over Brisbane Roar at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday.

Playing behind a new-look, largely L-plate, back four, he was confident coming off his line and appeared every bit an A-League keeper. He made a brilliant finger-tip save to deny Socceroo Tom Oar when the game was in the balance in the first half, with the Jets ahead 1-0.

Jets captain Nigel Boogaard said the resounding win was great for the squad’s belief.

“The belief’s always been there but when that belief turns in to results, that’s a big difference,” he said. “There are patches we can still improve but it was good for the boys to feel that victory. It is good to know what it is like to win. It gives the boys confidence that we are going to be hard to beat and we have some weapons going forward.” 

Next is a road trip to take on Western Sydney Wanderers at their new home, Spotless Stadium.

“We have to approach every game as though it’s a final and have the same energy as we did on the weekend, otherwise a good result is washed away by a bad one,” Boogaard said.

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