Jets hit two targets in recruitment battle

AFTER a number of promises and near misses, the Newcastle Jets have finally struck on the recruitment front with Sasho Petrovski and Dutchman Donny de Groot agreeing to terms.Petrovski, 33, signed off on a two-year deal yesterday and will join the Jets as soon as his A-League finals commitments with the Mariners are over.De Groot, who has played seven years in the Dutch first division, arrives today on a one-year deal with a second-year option.They join Perth's Nikolai Topor-Stanley as confirmed starters for the Asian Champions League.And the news looks set to get better. Adelaide defender Angelo Costanzo, 32, and former Melbourne Victory centre-half Ljubo Milicevic are expected to put pen to paper on Jets deals by the end of the week.It is certainly an improvement on the dire situation of a week ago.Jade North (Incheon United) and James Holland (AZ Alkmaar) left before the end of the A-League season. Mark Milligan (Shanghai Shenhua) joined the exodus on Monday and Joel Griffiths flies to China on Saturday for a medical at Beijing Guoan.There was also speculation that Adam Griffiths (FC Seoul) and Topor-Stanley (Ulsan Hyundai) would also be departing, but both are certain starters for the ACL. Griffiths joins new club Gold Coast United on June 30."We are getting a lot closer to what we had hoped in terms of signings," Jets coach Gary van Egmond said yesterday. "We are still a few off, particularly in the front third, but hopefully they will be sorted by the end of the week."As well as quality, the new faces will add some much-needed experience to a Jets squad which had an average age under 23."We have some men about the place," van Egmond said."There is no doubt we have some fantastic young talent, but it is important to have a good balance of young and old. We have lost seniors players, but we have replaced them with senior players."Of the incoming players, de Groot looms as the most important. The 29-year-old is a proven goalscorer over a long career in Holland and will change the dynamics of the Jets."Donny does his work in the box," van Egmond said. "He won't explode past people or run a lot of channels, but in the box he is fantastic."The Jets had hoped de Groot would be joined by countryman Kevin Bobson, but talks have broken down."Unfortunately, that one is not going to happen," van Egmond said."In the end it came down to dollars and we just can't afford what he is asking."Van Egmond cast his eye of Serbian international Nemanja Simovic, who trained with the youth league again last night."He certainly showed some things that he didn't on Monday night," van Egmond said. "Again, we will give him until the end of the week and make a judgement."Milicevic is likely to be present when the Jets resume training tomorrow.The 27-year-old, who played Champions League for Swiss club FC Thun, had a bitter fallout at Melbourne last year.He recently admitted to depression and van Egmond said both Milicevic and Costanzo had points to prove."I had a good chat with Ljubo, and he is determined to get his career back on track and prove the doubters wrong," the coach said."He comes here with a fantastic attitude and I know he is looking forward to the challenge."Same with Ange. He has some unfinished business, and at 32 still has some decent football in him."His experience in Asia alone will be invaluable."

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