NEWCASTLE have signed former Sydney FC and Adelaide veteran Iain Fyfe to help reinforce their injury-ravaged backline.
Fyfe, 34, has agreed to a short-term injury-waiver contract to replace Daniel Mullen (knee) and will train with the Jets for the first time on Monday.
The initial tenure will be for seven weeks, but that could be extended depending on how long Nigel Boogaard is sidelined after tearing ankle ligaments in Thursday night’s 2-1 loss to Melbourne City.
Jets coach Mark Jones said he would also consider the option of signing Fyfe to a longer contract if his performances warranted it.
“If there was room in the roster and if he does well, we’re always open to that,’’ Jones told the Herald.
“Obviously a player of his experience, if he can get himself back to playing at the intensity of the A-League, he’d be a good asset.’’
Fyfe played the last of his 163 A-League games in April, 2013, in a final for Adelaide against Brisbane.
He then spent a season with Sanat Mes Kerman FC in Iran, and since 2014 has been playing for Adelaide club Campbelltown City, who this season were the South Australian National Premier League champions.
“He’s played under-17, under-20, under-23s for Australia,’’ Jones said.
“He played 88 games for Sydney, a few seasons at Adelaide, and obviously at his peak was one of the best defenders in the league.
“He had a good year with Campbelltown. They won the NPL grand final in Adelaide, and he was a big part of why they won it.’’
Jones said it might be too early to rush Fyfe in for Sunday’s clash with Central Coast.
“Potentially he could play, but it would be difficult,’’ Jones said.
“The last time he played was September 10, so he’s had six weeks off. We’ll just see how he looks at training and go from there.’’
Jones said former Wellington and Adelaide defender Jon McKain had been one possible option for Newcastle, but the 16-cap Socceroo decided against relocating from the Gold Coast at the age of 34.
As well as Boogaard and Mullen, Newcastle’s defence has been depleted by injuries to Lachlan Jackson (ankle), Ben Kantarovski (knee), Daniel Alessi (knee) and goalkeeper Ben Kennedy (Achilles). The Jets are hopeful Boogaard – initially diagnosed with a six-to-12-week injury – will be back sooner rather than later.
Kantarovski might be available to return from injury ahead of schedule against the Mariners at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday.
“There’s a chance he could be back this week,’’ Jones said. “The idea is that we see how he goes at training, and if he gets through without any problems he should be right to play.
“But there’s a chance he has a loose body in his knee, and if it does catch again, he might need an op to remove it and that would mean another three to four weeks out.
“But at this point, we’re hoping he’ll be OK for this week.’’
If Kantarovski is unable to prove his fitness, Jones may have to manufacture a stopgap replacement for rookie Johnny Koutroumbis on Sunday.