Lambton Jaffas are facing an injury crisis before a ball has been kicked in their campaign to add a premiership to their two Northern NSW NPL grand final wins.
The defending champions, who host Edgeworth in a grand final rematch in round one on Saturday, were already facing at least a month without captain Jobe Wheelhouse (ankle surgery).
Defender Liam O’Dell is set to leave Lambton’s roster in six weeks after a change in work and family commitments. O’Dell is now available for only Sunday games.
Michael Sessions (ankle) and Michael Kantarovski (hamstring) were in doubt for round one and Ridge Mapu (knee) will miss two to three weeks. Luke Remington joined the casualty list on Monday night when hurt in a tackle during a trial against the Jets. He faces three to four weeks on the sidelines.
The blows come after the club lost signing Ben Jurman, the brother of Socceroo Matt Jurman. Jaffas coach James Pascoe said the former Sydney United player “would have been best defender in the competition” but he had to leave after one month with the club due to family reasons. Kieran Sanders and Cade Mapu were earlier signings that also fell through.
Ex-Hamilton defender Marcus Duncan, who was in Melbourne, has come in for O’Dell and Pascoe was looking for more replacements.
“The plus side is I have plenty of points to add a couple of players in the first window,” he said. “I’ve got a few irons in the fire. Quality players who are finishing up in the A-League, so hopefully we’re in a different position in six weeks, but right now we’ve come back to the pack.”
The NPL season starts on Saturday with the Jets Youth taking on Adamstown, Lambton Jaffas playing Edgeworth at Edden Oval (both 2.30pm). Maitland host Weston at 7pm. On Sunday, Lake Macquarie welcome Broadmeadow (2.30pm) and Charlestown are away to Hamilton (6pm).