STAR Newcastle Jets recruits Roy O’Donovan, Daniel Georgievski, Dimitri Petratos and Nikolai Topor-Stanley will all feature in the club’s opening trial against Northern NSW NPL cellar-dwellers Weston on Tuesday night.
The Jets play the Bears at Weston Park in the first of three trials against local NPL opposition in the lead-up to their FFA Cup round of 32 away clash against Adelaide on August 9. Newcastle take on in-form Broadmeadow (July 19) and Hamilton (August 2) in the other hit-outs.
Jets chief executive and youth team coach Lawrie McKinna said all fit A-League squad members, including O’Donovan, Georgievski, Petratos and Topor-Stanley, would play at least half a game against the Bears.
Ernie Merrick’s squad will be expected to have no trouble against the young Weston line-up, who are in a rebuilding phase under coach Steve Piggott and have just one win and four draws from 15 games this year. McKinna said the opener was a chance for both clubs’ young players to make an impression.
“It will be a great opportunity for them, and we’ve got a few young boys from the youth team who will get an opportunity as well,” McKinna said.
He said the Bears were chosen as an opponent because of their facilities, pitch and the Jets’ high membership in the region.
Piggott estimated seven of his senior team players, including goalkeeper Kane Runge, James Thompson, Cooper Buswell, Zac Jokinen and Zac Thomas, were young enough to push their claims for youth contracts with the Jets. However, Piggott believed the game was an opportunity for all players to test themselves.
“For me, they are just getting exposure against quality players and to see where they stand," he said.
Weston hope to also give 17-year-old Blacktown striker Lachlan Rose, 17, an opportunity against the Jets. Piggott said Rose, who they hope to sign, will start if the club gains written permission from Football NSW.
One player who will not feature is Argentinian midfielder Ignacio Giampaoli. Weston have signed the 23-year-old but are yet to gain an international clearance for the former LA Galaxy trialist.
Bears winger Chris Hurley, who came to Weston from the Central Coast Mariners system this year, said his team were excited about the challenge on Tuesday night.
“You never know what can come out of a game like this if you have a good 90 minutes,” Hurley said.
“Especially for the younger ones like Cooper Buswell, James Thompson and Kane Runge, who are quality starting 11 players for us.
“It’s definitely exciting. You don’t get opportunities like this very often. It’s a positive as an individual and as a team, just to get a hit-out against a team like that, everyone is buzzing.”
Kick-off is 7pm.