A-League: Brazilian striker on radar as Jets welcome trialists

ON TRIAL: Bentleigh Greens goalkeeper Ryan Scott drops low to make a save. Picture: AAP
ON TRIAL: Bentleigh Greens goalkeeper Ryan Scott drops low to make a save. Picture: AAP

BRAZILIAN Jair Eduardo Britto da Silva is among “three or four” strikers “on the radar” as the Newcastle Jets look to add experience and punch to their attack.

The 30-year-old, who stands 186 centimetres, is a free agent after a lean season for Yanbian Funde in the Chinese first division. Before moving to China, he had two productive seasons in the K-League at Jeonnam Dragons, netting 26 goals in 55 games.

Asked about Jair, Jets football operations manager Joel Griffiths said: “He is on our radar. There are three or four on the radar.”

Born in Pelotas, Jair was a regular goal-scorer in the Serie C and Serie B in his homeland, before heading to Korean club Jeju United in 2011, where he scored 20 goals in 55 appearances over two seasons. Stints in Japan and the United Arab Emirates followed before he returned to Korea.

As well as a foreign striker, the Jets are in the market for an Australian attacker and a second goalkeeper.

Former Melbourne Victory flyer Mitch Austin has trained with the club for a fortnight and appears likely to be offered a deal pending a positive second report on the knee he had reconstructive surgery on 10 months ago.

English-born Avondale striker Kaine Sheppard trained with the Jets on Monday and has scored 14 goals in 20 games in the Victorian National Premier League.

At the other end of the pitch, former Wellington Phoenix back-up keeper Lewis Italiano and Bentleigh Greens shot-stopper Ryan Scott trained on Monday. Italiano was No.2 behind Glen Moss at Phoenix under Ernie Merrick and has 20 A-League appearances.

Scott was man-of-the-match in Bentleigh Greens’ 2-1 win over Heidelberg in last season’s Victorian NPL decider and made a series of outstanding saves in the 4-0 win over Broadmeadow in the FFA Cup a fortnight ago.

Merrick is loath to discuss recruitment targets or trialists outside of the attributes he is after in a player.

“We need an experienced high striker who can play centrally or wide so who can fit in when Roy comes back,” he said. “On top of that, a secondary player, probably a wide player would suit us, but they could play central, who is a dynamic player. They are in demand every where. We will continue to chase the right person with the right profile at the right price.”

Kiwi international Matthew Ridenton has been the only addition to the squad, leaving four places available. The Jets didn’t sign marquee midfielder Ronny Vargas until September 15 last year.

“We are in a fortunate position in that we have retained most of the squad and the players pretty well know how we play,” Merrick said. “We know the type of player we are looking for and we are not in a rush because we want to get the right person. With seven weeks to go, we have plenty of time.”

Meanwhile, scans confirmed that Dimi Petratos has a grade one tear to ligaments in his ankle and has been ruled out of the Socceroos’ training camp in Turkey.