HIS debut for Melbourne Heart was rated among the best in A-League history.
Now Craig Goodwin is set to be the next young gun to join the Newcastle Jets.
Jets chief executive Robbie Middleby confirmed last night that talks were advanced with the left back, who grabbed headlines last month with a man-of-the-match performance in a tense scoreless draw with Melbourne Victory.
Thrust into the heat of a Melbourne derby, the 20-year-old South Australian tormented the Victory with his raids down the left, went close to scoring the match winner with a long-range thunderbolt, and was sure-footed in defence against the league’s highest-profile attack.
His performance attracted rave reviews from Fox Sports commentators and former Socceroos Mark Rudan and Mark Bosnich.
Since that attention-grabbing opening night, Goodwin has started in two matches, including a 3-0 loss to the Jets, and come off the bench once.
He was in the Olyroos squad which fought out a scoreless draw with Iraq last week.
The Heart, who already have Olyroos starting left back Aziz Behich, are keen to retain Goodwin but his relationship with Jets youth team coach Arthur Papas is expected to work in Newcastle’s favour.
Papas recruited Goodwin from South Australia, where he was unable to make the Adelaide United youth team, to play under him at Oakleigh Cannons in the Victorian Premier League last season.
Papas was instrumental in Goodwin earning a youth team contract at the Heart, where he was the assistant before joining the Jets.
‘‘Left back is an important position and he is a good young player,’’ Middleby said.
‘‘We are certainly very interested in him and hope he comes on board.
‘‘His was one of the best debuts in the A-League.
‘‘Mark Rudan made that statement at the time and it was backed up by Mark Bosnich.’’
Regular Jets left back Korean Byun Sung-hwan and his understudy Mario Simic are both off contract.
Byun, 32, has been one of the Jets most consistent performers but with Football Federation Australia expected to reduce the number of overseas players to four next year, he is unlikely to be retained.
Simic made four A-League appearances last season but has played just 33 minutes off the bench under Gary van Egmond.
The Jets have already recruited promising youngsters James Brown (Gold Coast), Adam Taggart (Perth) and keeper Mark Birighitti (Adelaide United) for next season. They follow the mid-season addition of Connor Chapman.
Brown scored a sensational brace in his first game back from an ankle injury to lead Gold Coast to a upset 3-0 win over Perth Glory on Sunday night.
‘‘James Brown was absolutely outstanding for Gold Coast on Sunday night,’’ Middleby said.
‘‘We are fortunate to have secured him for next year.
‘‘When you couple that up with what Jacob Pepper and Regan Taylor have done this year, obviously Ben Kantarovski, as well as Mark Birighitti and Adam Taggart, we have some exciting talent.’’
Excluding Goodwin, the Jets have 14 players on their books for next season, leaving a maximum of eight places to fill.
The Jets have made offers to Jeremy Brockie and Tarek Elrich but they are yet to sign again.
The future of Michael Bridges, Francis Jeffers, Ali Abbas, Labinot Haliti, Byun and Simic remains uncertain.
Out-of-favour midfielder Kasey Wehrman has been told he is not wanted.
‘‘We still need to make sure we have the right senior players there as well to help the young ones coming through,’’ Middleby said.
‘‘You need a balance of youth and experience.’’