VETERAN goalkeeper Ivan Necevski has been cleared to cover as an injury replacement for Newcastle Jets and will sit on the bench for the A-League grand against Melbourne Victory at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday night.
Football Federation Australia granted the Jets special dispensation to bring the former Jets, Mariners and Sydney FC back-up into the squad at the last minute after the club’s No.1 Jack Duncan tore his quadriceps in the semi-final win over Melbourne City.
Australian under-17 gloveman Noah James has been training with the senior squad but was ineligible to step up because he was injured during and not registered for the National Youth League campaign.
Necevski, 38, has been playing for Apia Leichhardt in the NSW Premier League. His club and NSWF signed off on the paper work Friday morning.
The experienced shot-stopper will train with the Jets on Friday morning.
Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna was hopeful of securing an injury replacement deal to gain an experienced back-up goalkeeper for Saturday night’s A-League grand final before a 5pm deadline on Friday.
A quadriceps injury to No.1 goalkeeper Jack Duncan in last Friday night’s 2-1 semi-final over Melbourne City threw New Zealand international Glen Moss into the fray and all but gave him the starting spot for the decider against Victory at McDonald Jones Stadium.
It was assumed that exciting Jets Youth team prospect Noah James would fill the void on the bench for the grand final if Duncan was ruled out.
However, McKinna revealed the 17-year-old was ineligible and the club was searching for a replacement from Sydney’s NSW National Premier League.
“We’re trying to get someone else,” McKinna told the Herald on Thursday.
“We’re looking at options to get someone else and we’re still working through that at the moment.
“But if we get someone from state league, we have to be able to get them back to state league.
“It will definitely not be Noah because he was injured during the NYL and he wasn’t registered. He’s registered for the NPL but that doesn’t count.”
McKinna said veteran Ivan Necevski (pictured), who joined the Jets in October and sat on the bench for 11 games, was one option.
The 38-year-old former Jets, Mariners and Sydney shot-stopper, returned to Sydney NPL club Apia Leichhardt after providing cover for Newcastle when Moss was on international duty and also when Duncan was injured.
Ante Covic, 42, who was in goals for Newcastle’s 2008 championship win, plays with Rockdale City Suns in the NSW NPL and looms as another option for the Jets.
“We’re hopeful we’ll have a replacement,” McKinna said. “There are a couple in there. Ivan is obviously one of them because he was here and did well.
“We’ve got until tomorrow night at 5.”
The Jets’ No.2 youth team keeper, Tristan Esquilant, did feature in the National Youth League over the summer and is eligible for the grand final.
Weston keeper Kane Runge also played for Newcastle in the NYL but has returned to the Bears.
McKinna said James had knee surgery and missed the NYL campaign but was later allowed to tour overseas with Sydney FC’s youth side.
He has returned to the club and played in the Northern NSW NPL side this season but he remains ineligible for the A-League.
“FFA have been great and have been helping us along that line,” McKinna said of signing an injury replacement.
“Then we’ve got to deal with the NSW association as well, so that’s what’s happening at the moment.”
Jets coach Ernie Merrick has not ruled Duncan out yet, but admitted he would “struggle” to prove his fitness at Friday’s captain’s run.
He was nonetheless named in Newcastle’s grand final squad, unlike midfielder Ben Kantarovski, who tore his hamstring three weeks ago in the final-round thrashing of Central Coast. Kantarovski, Newcastle’s most-capped player, trained on Wednesday but Merrick said he “didn’t run at a full sprint at any stage”.
English import Wayne Brown (calf) also missed the cut.