The chances of Newcastle making a key signing in the transfer window appear remote after coach Mark Jones said on Friday that “no one is really available”.
The Jets will field a depleted attack against Western Sydney Wanderers on Sunday with Morten Nordstrand (concussion) and Andrew Hoole (suspension) out and Wayne Brown (hip flexor) unlikely to play.
The club completed the signing of South Australian NPL player Joel Allwright on Friday as cover at left and right back, but no other recruits are on the horizon with 10 days to go before the window closes.
“It’s not the big-name signing that everyone was expecting, but at this point there is no one really available,” Jones said.
Kiwi veteran Shane Smeltz and former Jets striker Mark Bridge were on the club’s radar, but Smeltz signed with Wellington and Bridge has suffered a knee injury.
“Obviously Bridgey getting injured put that to bed for a little bit, and there’s really not too much else there that we’d bring in to spend the money and get a definite outcome from. It’s just not there,” Jones said.
The Jets cannot sign a foreign player as they already have five on their books. Few other A-League clubs have made high-profile signings in what has been a quiet transfer period.
Allwright, who has been playing as an attacking midfielder for Adelaide City, could sit on the bench against Wanderers at Campbelltown Stadium if his short-term contract is finalised.
“Joel’s a good athlete, he’s got good feet. He’s been wanting an opportunity,” Jones said.
“It’s a bit like Popa in the first year there [at Wanderers] where he gave a lot of people a second chance. This is effectively Joel’s first chance, and it’s been a long time coming, so hopefully he steps up to the plate and gives us something special.”
Jones said Finnish target man Aleksandr Kokko would start up front after Nordstrand received a head knock in the 2-2 draw against Perth last weekend and was still suffering concussion symptoms this week.
“It’s doubtful that he’ll play this weekend. It looks like Kokko will come in and get his first start for a while.
“I’ll be excited to see what he can do. He’s trained better, and he’s working harder and looking fitter and sharper. Ultimately, but, it will be how effective he is during the game, and he’s got a great opportunity now to show us what he’s got.”
Devante Clut is likely to start in midfield and Ma Leilei wide on the left.
Lachlan Jackson will retain his spot at centre back ahead of Daniel Mullen despite an error which gifted Adam Taggart the first goal last week.
Jones said former Brisbane Roar youth striker Harry Sawyer, who has joined the Jets on a youth contract and scored a hat-trick on debut last week in a 4-3 loss to Sydney FC, was also vying for a spot on the bench with Labinot Haliti and Allwright.
The Jets, who have three wins and two draws in their past six games, are seventh on 17 points but could jump to fifth. Wanderers are two points back in eighth.