Striker on trial as Jets home in

VALENTINE Phoenix striker Alex Read has been given a second chance at the A-League and will start training with the Newcastle Jets when they resume on Thursday.

Read is the first of a number of local youngsters who will be invited to trial with the Jets during the pre-season.

The 19-year-old was given a taste of the A-League when plucked from obscurity by North Queensland in January. He spent two months in Townsville and played in the Fury’s final two games off the bench before the club folded.

Jets chief executive Robbie Middleby was at the Fury at the time and was impressed by the Belmont teenager.

One of Middleby’s priorities in his new role is ensuring players like Read do not slip through the net.

‘‘We want to look at as much local talent as we can,’’ Middleby said. ‘‘That will happen over the next month or two.

‘‘[Youth team coach] Craig Deans and other members of the coaching staff will be getting out to as many games as we can.

‘‘We want to ensure we identify and provide a pathway for the best young players in the region.’’

Read has scored four goals in seven appearances for Phoenix.

‘‘He is still eligible for youth league, but we also want to see if he has got what it takes to be in the first-grade squad,’’ Middleby said.

‘‘It was difficult for him at the Fury with all the turmoil, but he still got to have a bit of a run and did well at training.

‘‘He is very raw and still has a lot to learn, but he has a knack of scoring goals.

‘‘I remember Sasho Petrovski when he was young. Good goal scorers just have that ability to be in the right place at the right time.

‘‘Alex seems to get in decent positions and is a goal scorer. Those are two talents which are hard to come by.’’

Read is just happy to get another opportunity.

‘‘I’m extremely excited and can’t wait to get into it,’’ he said. ‘‘There are a lot of players out there who want a chance, and I have been lucky enough to get one.

‘‘I learned a lot in my short time at the Fury. The players were so professional and willing to help young players.

‘‘It is a matter of listening and working hard.’’

The Jets yesterday completed the first five-week phase of the pre-season.

They will play Hamilton Olympic at Darling St Oval on June 8 in the first of three trials against local opposition. They meet Weston at Weston Park on June 16 and Phoenix at Cahill Oval on June 22.

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