A-League: Newcastle Jets striker Aleksandr Kokko leaves for Hong Kong

JETS chief executive Lawrie McKinna says the club will look for a first-team attacking player to replace departed striker Aleksandr Kokko.

The Finnish front man completed a move to Hong Kong’s Eastern SC on Tuesday, freeing up considerable salary-cap room at the Jets.

Eastern finished second in the Hong Kong Premier League in 2016-17 to reach the Asian Champions League qualifying rounds.

They were the HKPL’s most popular club last season with an average home crowd of 1923.

Kokko will join former Western Sydney midfielder Vitor Saba at the club.

The Jets said in a statement on Tuesday that Kokko’s exit would allow them to add another foreign player to their roster, but McKinna told the Herald that the club could look to an Australian to boost their forward stocks.

“It doesn’t necessarily need to be a visa player. If we can find an Aussie player, then so be it,” he said.

“I know everybody is going to chuck up Nathan Burns, and that would be lovely, but obviously that’s not in the budget at the moment. We’ve spoken to him, but there are a few offers coming in from overseas clubs, and if that happens, we’re no chance.”

Either way, McKinna said the Jets now had the cash to chase a “quality” forward.

“Dimi [Petratos] can play up there. There are other boys who can do a job, but we really need another target player, somebody attacking.

“Whoever comes in has to be able to come in and feature in that team, either up front with Roy O’Donovan or alone himself, not just a back-up. We’ll be able to go for a player who is quality enough to be starting.”

The Jets now have room for three more foreigners, one of whom will be from China. Two Chinese trialists are expected to arrive this month, and the club is also believed to be after a South American attacking midfielder.

MicKinna said Kokko’s playing style had not suited the A-League.

“Ernie thought he was going to struggle to get a game up front in his team. He was just up front and honest with him.

“He was really a big target man, and in the A-League now they want strikers pretty mobile. You look at O’Donovan and these guys, they’re busy all over the place.

“Kokko was more your old-fashioned striker. It didn’t really suit how Mark played and is definitely not going to suit how Ernie plays.”

The Herald reported last week that Kokko was exploring a deal to leave the Hunter despite having a year to run on his contract.

The 30-year-old was among the team’s highest-paid players but started in just seven games in his first season in the A-League, scoring once.