Young Iraqi pair fail to excite Jets during training run

NEWCASTLE Jets coach Gary van Egmond was noncommittal yesterday about the possibility of signing either or both of two Iraqi under-23 players who trained with the club yesterday.

Attacking midfielder Ali Abbas and defender-midfielder Ali Khadher are hoping to link with an A-League club. The pair successfully sought political asylum after playing a qualifier against the Olyroos in Gosford this year.

Both players are in Australia on refugee visas, which frees them up to play despite opposition from the Iraqi Football Association.

Abbas has already played eight times for the Iraqi senior team and was one of the heroes of Iraq's stunning 2007 Asian Cup triumph.

Newcastle still have three positions available in their squad, but van Egmond said it was "unlikely", on yesterday's showing, that either of the Iraqis would be wearing the Jets colours in the coming A-League season.

"They rang up and were interested in having a run, and we had no problems as far as training with us is concerned," van Egmond said.

"They came in and we'll touch base with them when we get back from Perth.

"At this stage I don't think anything is going to happen.

"We've got possibly three spots open, one of whom will be our marquee and one will be from overseas.

"That's where we're at."

Asked how the two triallists performed at yesterday's session, van Egmond replied: "They were fine. They didn't do anything that was outrageously fantastic or outrageously bad."

Van Egmond said Abbas and Khadher were based in Sydney and was unsure how long they would continue to train with the Jets.

"It just depends on their availability," he said.

Meanwhile, the Jets will fly west today for Saturday's Pre-Season Cup clash with Perth Glory in Mandurah.

Newcastle's 14-man squad will be depleted by the absence of Olyroos Jade North and James Holland and the suspended Adam Griffiths.

In their absence, Broadmeadow Magic defender Beau Busch will have a chance to push his claims for a contract.

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