A-League: Kewell, Milicic, Gombau on radar as Jets compile shortlist for coach

LEADER: Roy O'Donovan's goal-scoring record was not the only attraction for the Jets. Picture: Getty Images
LEADER: Roy O'Donovan's goal-scoring record was not the only attraction for the Jets. Picture: Getty Images

NEWCASTLE chief executive Lawrie McKinna will approach Football Federation Australia about the availability of national team staff Ante Milicic and Josep Gombau as the Jets step up their search for a new coach.

McKinna is compiling a shortlist of potential replacements for Mark Jones, who was shown the door on Sunday.

He has received more than 30 expressions of interest, of which “about half” were from overseas, including some high-profile candidates.

The Herald understands that Socceroos legend Harry Kewell is among those to have approached the club.

Kewell left his role as the Watford under-23s manager last week after a poor run of recent results.

The former Leeds and Liverpool winger has been at the club's academy since July 2015. He was initially in charge of the under-21s before stepping up to the next age group at the start of this season. However, he stepped down after recording just two wins since September.

“There has been plenty of interest, including some highly qualified coaches from Serbia, Spain and the UK… all over,” McKinna said.

McKinna said owner Martin Lee had not allocated a budget for the position.

“He wants to look at the shortlist and then provide his input,” McKinna said. “Some people might price themselves out of the equation.”

As well as overseas candidates, McKinna said there had been strong interest domestically and did not rule out approaching the likes of Milicic and Gombau.

Milicic is the Socceroos assistant coach. Adelaide championship-winner Gombau is in charge of the Olyroos and is also on Ange Postecoglou’s staff.

Both are contracted to FFA until the end of the 2018 World Cup campaign.

“I will speak to Luke Casserly (FFA head of national perfomance) about that to get permission to speak to these guys,” McKinna said. “If we are not happy with the applicants we will approach people to see if they are available.”

The new coach will have a new striker after confirmation on Wednesday that Roy O’Donovan will join the Jets on a two-year deal.

The 31-year-old scored 11 goals for the Mariners this season and 19 in 45 appearances overall.

Although important, McKinna said O’Donovan would add more than just goals.

“It is everything else that comes with it,” McKinna said. “His enthusiasm and leadership on the park is infectious. We need more leaders. He will be a great role model for the younger players. “

A former striker at Premier League club Sunderland, O’Donovan is accustomed to the A-League which made him a “safe option”.

“Even when the Mariners were struggling he was always dangerous and would always get a chance or two,” McKinna said. “He has been here and is tried and tested.”