ANDREW Nabbout is back in the A-League with a point to prove after signing a two-year contract with the Newcastle Jets on Tuesday.
The 23-year-old striker was cut by Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat in May last year and moved to Malaysian second-tier club Negeri Sembilan in December.
But Nabbout is back and eyeing off the Jets’ FFA Cup round-of-32 fixture against Victory at Magic Park on August 3 as a chance to show his former club and the rest of the league that he belongs in Australia’s premier competition.
“100 per cent. A lot of people wrote me off after I got released from Victory,” Nabbout told the Newcastle Herald after putting pen to paper on his contract on Tuesday.
“The first cup game now is against Victory, so I definitely have a point to prove as to why I should be here, and that’s exactly what I’m going out to prove. I’m here to show Newcastle fans why I’m here and why I should be here.”
Nabbout played 36 games for Victory from 2012 to 2015, almost all of them under Ange Postecoglou before Muscat took over in 2013. He scored five goals at Melbourne before joining former Jets defender Taylor Regan at Negeri Sembilan.
“It wasn’t really wrong,” Nabbout said of his limited opportunities under Muscat. “He had Berisha there, and he’s an unbelievable player and he has to be starting in any team, but I was bit disappointed not to get a go at all.
“Most of the time I was left out of the squad. I think I deserved to at least be in the squad, but everyone has their opinions.”
Nabbout was Negeri Sembilan’s top scorer with nine goals in 14 games before being replaced mid-season by former Brisbane star Henrique last month.
“I did well in Malaysia. Unfortunately performances aren’t always what gets you over the line in those sorts of countries,” he said.
“It’s a lot to do with what happens off the ground.
“I left as top scorer and top assists, but I’ve got to bring that form into the A-League. This is where it counts now.
“I’m coming here not as a squad player but to push for a starting position, and obviously that’s what the gaffer wants.”
Nabbout said he had hoped to sign with another A-League club immediately after leaving the Victory but a combination of factors had worked against him.
“That’s what I wanted, obviously. I wanted it straight after being released from Victory, but it doesn’t really matter. I’m back now, and that’s what counts,” he said.
“I think most of the squads had players in my positions already.
“It was bad timing, and football is what it is. It’s a rough game in terms of everything off the ground, finding clubs and being released and stuff like that.
“The main thing is I’m back now with the Jets, and hopefully I can get stuck in pretty quickly.”
Supporters will get an early opportunity to see Scott Miller’s new acquisition in action in Wednesday night’s friendly against the Northern NSW NPL Select side at Magic Park.
The Jets squad now numbers 21. Miller is expected to sign an overseas striker, a Chinese player and one or two more under-20 development players to complete his roster.
Meanwhile, left back Ivan Vujica has been cleared of serious injury after leaving training on a stretcher last week. The teenager has bad bruising on his ankle.
Jets squad: Ben Kennedy, Jack Duncan; Jason Hoffman, Daniel Mullen, Nigel Boogaard, Nick Cowburn, Ivan Vujica, Lachlan Jackson, Daniel Alessi; Steven Ugarkovic, Mateo Poljak, Ben Kantarovski, Wayne Brown, Devante Clut, Mitch Cooper; Andrew Hoole, Labinot Haliti, Morten Nordstrand, Andrew Nabbout, Andy Brennan, Radovan Pavicevic.