NEWCASTLE Jets have suffered a major blow to their A-League hopes after keeper Jack Duncan triggered a release clause in his contract to join an overseas club.
Duncan, who was outstanding last season, is expected to confirm his new club, believed to be in Saudi Arabia, in the next 24 hours.
The Jets will pocket a “significant transfer fee” but coach Ernie Merrick was unhappy to lose his No.1 shotstopper.
“I’m extremely disappointed to lose Jack, but he’s been offered an opportunity that he wants to pursue,” Merrick said. “He’s a great team man and well-respected member of this club, his engagement with our fans and his contribution to the Newcastle community shouldn’t be overlooked. At his age and with his ability, I think Jack has the potential to go onto big things and I wish him the very best with the next step in his career.”
Goalkeeper Coach, Chris Bowling deputised for Glen Moss in the Jets’ 2-1 win over Al-Ahli in Murcia overnight.
The Jets came from a goal down to win. Jason Hoffman equalised in the 40th minute after collecting a defensive-splitting pass from Steve Ugarkovic.
Kosta Petratos scored the winner off the bench in the 65th minute.
Duncan returned to the Jets for a second stint after a season in Denmark at Randers, where he was unable to break into the first team.
The 25-year-old played 19 appearances for the Jets last season but missed the 1-0 grand final loss to Melbourne Victory due to a torn quadriceps.
Duncan said while he has loved his time in Newcastle, the time was right to take the next step.
“I made my A-League debut with the Jets, the club has given me so much,” Duncan said.
“I’ve grown as a player during my time in Newcastle, I’ve had some great times and worked with some fantastic people. This is a great opportunity to develop my career and one that I couldn’t pass up.”
The Jets are fortunate to have a proven keeper in former New Zealand international Moss on their books.
However, one of the big advantages they had over their A-League rivals was having two experienced keepers on their roster.
It is unclear if the Jets will sign a new keeper or promote the promising James to the senior roster.