A-League: Newcastle Jets release Pato Rodriguez to free up funds for a striker

GONE: The Newcastle Jets have opted against signing Argentine  Pato Rodriguez to a new deal for the 2018-19 A-League season. The winger scored one goal and supplied four assists in 12 appearances. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
GONE: The Newcastle Jets have opted against signing Argentine Pato Rodriguez to a new deal for the 2018-19 A-League season. The winger scored one goal and supplied four assists in 12 appearances. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

NEWCASTLE Jets are on the hunt for a striker to support Roy O’Donovan after the club formally cut ties with Argentine winger Pato Rodriguez on Wednesday.

Rodriguez was one of two additions, alongside Riley McGree, during the January transfer window.

The livewire was brought in as cover for Ronny Varags as the playmaker continued his recovery from a badly broken ankle.

The pair had played together at AEK Athens.

Rodriguez made a spectacular start, coming off the bench to produce a quality finish and seal a 2-0 win over Central Coast Mariners at home in round 15.

Although not adding to his goal, the 28-year-old supplied four assists and at times toyed with the opposition.

However, he struggled to cope with the defensive requirements and was squeezed out of the starting side when Vargas returned in round 25.

The Venezuelan took over the No.10 role and player-of-the-year Dimi Petratos shifted to the left where Rodriguez had been deployed.

Although on a short-term deal, Rodriguez was on  big money.

And with marquee midfielder Vargas this week agreeing to a one-year extension and Petratos contracted for another season, the Jets have opted to spend money in other areas.

Top of the list is another front man.

The departure of Andrew Nabbout to Japan after round 22, left the Jets without a back-up to O’Donovan.

Nabbout scored six of his 10 goals when leading the attack in the absence of the Irishman.

After his exit, rookie winger Joe Champness shifted to the point of the attack but was out of sorts and unable to make an impact in consecutive losses to Wellington (1-0) and Adelaide (5-2).

O’Donovan returned for the back end of the campaign and finished with nine goals.

Despite being without their hired gun for almost a third of the campaign, the Jets netted a club-record 57 goals.

However, with a potentially lengthy suspension for O’Donovan imminent, management are keen to add depth to their striking stocks.

O’Donovan appeared before Football Federation Australia’s disciplinary and ethic committee on Tuesday night on a charge of serious foul play for a reckless, high-foot challenge on Melbourne Victory keeper Lawrence Thomas in the dying stages of the Jets 1-0 grand final loss.

After a marathon hearing, the tribunal deferred a judgement on his sanction until later this week.

Committee chairman John Marshall SC said the tribunal needed more time to deliberate because “this is a potentially lengthy sentence and we just need to be clear on our reasoning.”

It appears likely that O’Donovan will be suspended for at least four matches.

Depending how far the Jets progress in the FFA Cup, the No.9 is set to miss the opening month of the 2018-19 A-League season.

The Jets have signed 21 players for next season but still have three visa places.