Newcastle will take every chance, starting with a trial against a Mid North Coast Select side on Tuesday night, to give suspended striker Roy O’Donovan game time.
O’Donovan travelled on Monday with the Jets on their tour of Forster and Port Macquarie, six days after he lost his appeal against a 10-match ban for his high foot to the head of Melbourne Victory goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas in Newcastle’s A-League grand final loss.
The sanction covers all competition matches, meaning the Irishman can play trials. He starts his suspension in the Jets’ round of 32 FFA Cup game against Gold Coast Knights on August 7 and how far Newcastle progress in the knockout will impact on the length of his A-League ban.
Jets assistant coach Clayton Zane said the pre-season matches were important for O’Donovan.
“For Roy, training for the sake of training can be very difficult, so I think with him these little matches we can try and get, these fillers I guess, are important up until he can play his first competitive match,” Zane said.
“He wants to keep his sharpness and there’s nothing like doing it against opposition. Although the matches don’t mean so much at this stage, there’s still playing against opposition that you don’t come up against on a day-to-day basis.
“He gets used to that at training but to go and get some match practice, I think it’s really important for us to find those scenarios for him so he can be ready.”
All of the Jets squad except for Ronny Vargas, Dimi Petratos and Wayne Brown have made the trip.
“The timing is good because it’s not the highest level, but it’s a chance for us to really move the ball quickly and try and get a bit of sharpness without extending ourselves too much,” Zane said.
“But the main things for us at this stage is not getting injured and getting time on the park where there’s a bit of competitive stakes.”