JACK Duncan still remembers the sound when Ben Kennedy snapped his Achilles tendon at training three days before season kick-off last year.
"It was horrible,” Duncan said wincing.
At the time, Duncan had his nose in front of Kennedy in the selection race to start in goals for round one.
Scans confirmed that Kennedy’s season was over before it has begun, giving Duncan a mortgage on the No.1 spot.
Kennedy has since recovered and joined the Mariners, where he is competing with teenage sensation Tom Glover, who is on loan from Tottenham Hotspur.
The pair have had equal playing time in recent pre-season friendlies.
As yet, Mariners coach Paul Okon hasn’t shown his hand on who will get the nod for the opener against the Jets at Central Coast Stadium on October 7.
“I think it will be weirder for him than me,” Duncan said on the prospect of lining up opposite Kennedy. “He was at this club for so long and to make a change. I’m sure he will be looking for a good performance and to prove people wrong maybe. I spoke to him when we played them early in the pre-season. He was in the final stages of his comeback from injury. He seemed happy, which is good.”
Duncan has his own selection battle to worry about.
Glen Moss, a veteran of 204 A-League games, signed with the Jets in May. They have shared game time in the pre-season and Moss has also been away on duty with New Zealand.
“Mossy and I have been pushing each other,” Duncan said.
“He is in an experienced international, a great pro and a great guy as well.
“Our relationship is very good. We push each other, work hard and support whoever is playing.”
Duncan, 24, played 25 games last season in a break-out campaign. The two games he missed were due to injury. Tom Arcaba, signed from the state league mid-season, covered but didn’t mount any real pressure on Duncan for his position.
“No matter who I have got behind me or in front of me, I will always push myself,” Duncan said. “The thing that makes a goalkeeper is consistency. I’m looking to build on last year. I want to be the best keeper in the A-League.”
Chris Bowling has been working with the keepers since the departure of Jess Vanstrattan to Melbourne City six weeks ago.
The change in goalkeeper coach has been one of only a few disruptions in a settled pre-season.
The smooth build up in in stark contrast to last season when Scott Miller and assistant Luciano Trani were sacked a month before round one and replaced by Mark Jones and Clayton Zane. Jones was subsequently let go after the Jets finished last.
There have been very few hiccups for new coach Ernie Merrick, who had the majority of the squad on deck from day one of pre-season.
“To have a settled pre-season with the boss, and to work on things we wanted to work on for the whole pre-season, I think it shows in our recent performances,” Duncan said.