NEWCASTLE Jets have urged fringe players to explore their options as the A-League strugglers move to free up space on the playing roster ahead of the January transfer window.
Mitch Cooper, Radovan Pavicevic and Andy Brennan are off contract and do not feature in the plans of coach Mark Jones.
Cooper and Pavicevic have not played a minute this season despite a crippling injury toll.
Brennan made his first appearance of the campaign, and fourth in two seasons, in the 2-0 loss to Melbourne Victory.
Jones is keen to bolster the squad during the transfer window, which opens on January 4, but at present the Jets have the maximum 22 out-field players.
The one vacancy is a replacement for injured goalkeeper Ben Kennedy. Tomislav Arcaba, who trained with the Jets last month and last played in Serbia, is likely to fill that void when the window opens.
“The players have contracts which will be honoured,” Jones said.
“Players want to play football. We have had a lot of injuries and certain individuals have not played a lot of game time. That suggests to get that game time it may be in their interest to look elsewhere. That is completely up to them.”
Former coach Scott Miller, who has joined Danish top-fight club AaBsport, had also encouraged the trio to look for other opportunities.
The Jets have “room to wriggle” in the salary cap and, depending if and who departs, could be in a position to offer about $90,000 for five months, which is equivalent to $200,000 a season.
As well as a full roster, they also have their five visa places filled.
Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna confirmed this month that a Chinese Super League club had made an approach about Ma LeiLei.
Croatian midfielder Mateo Poljak is in the process of obtaining Australian citizenship but that is unlikely to be finalised by February.
The Newcastle Herald understands that Cooper has interest from two clubs in the Malaysian Super League, which starts in February.
Brennan’s manager, former South Melbourne midfielder, David Clarkson was in Newcastle for talks last week. Before the Victory game, the 23-year-old Tasmanian made three appearances in the final three rounds last season for a total of 78 minutes.
Pavicevic, 21, started in one of his seven appearances last season.
Cooper, 22, is in his fifth year in Newcastle. The attacker’s early progress was stalled by back-to-back knee reconstructions. However, he has since struggled to cement a regular spot.
The trio are among 12 players off contract which includes rising stars Andrew Hoole and Steve Ugarkovic and proven performers Mateo Poljak and Morten Nordstrand.
“There has been interest in a few of our players, at both ends of the roster,” Jones said. “We would be hoping for people at the bottom end of our roster, if they found an opportunity to take it.”
Wayne Brown signed a two-year extension this month and Jones plans to begin talks with other players soon.
“It is something we have flagged and will approach people as we get towards the mid-point of the season,” he said.
“For now the focus has gone off retention to get getting results. It is a good time to look at people. The good players will stand up at this point and make a difference.”