van Egmond’s Jets revamp gathers pace

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Gary van Egmond is stamping his mark on the Newcastle Jets with a host of new signings arriving and a few club favourites departing.

Yesterday, the Jets announced the signings of Scott Neville from Perth Glory and Craig Goodwin from Melbourne Heart, two Australian under-23 internationals.

They will join the likes of recent buys Olyroos James Brown (Gold Coast) and Mark Birighitti (Adelaide), former Joeys captain Connor Chapman (AIS) and Olyroo Adam Taggart (Perth).

These will join a core of young Jets already at the club – such as Olyroo Jacob Pepper, Young Socceroo James Virgili, Taylor Regan and Joey Luke Remington.

At the same time striker Jeremy Brockie, attacking midfielder Ali Abbas and defender Tarek Elrich are all leaving Newcastle.

The news will surprise and sadden some Jets fans. Brockie was the club’s equal top goalscorer last season, along with Ryan Griffiths, and had a penchant for scoring unbelievable goals.

Abbas had been with the Jets for several years and is skillful player with an eye for goal but found it hard to break into the first team at the start of the season.

Elrich is a fan favourite in Newcastle after eight years with the Jets. Dubbed ‘Mr Newcastle’ by some, Elrich was the only survivor of the Jets’ 2008 grand-final win and his departure has been heavily debated on Twitter this afternoon. However all three year were prone to inconsistency on the field.

van Egmond has shown that he will not tolerate any dissent, as seen last season with his handling of Kasey Wehrman and that he is single-minded in his idea of how the Jets should play football.

He wants an up-tempo attacking style, dependent on playing out from the back and pressing at all times, and needs the player that can do that. Van Egmond has gone with a series of young signings, fast players that he is able to mould and develop to deliver this philosophy.

Birhghitti will challenge Ben Kennedy for the goalkeeping spot, while Goodwin and Neville will compete for the left and right back spots respectively. Tiago, Topor-Stanley, Regan and Chapman will be in the mix for the centre of defence.

The midfield will have a youngish look to it with Ben Kantarovski, Brown, Pepper, Virgili and Ruben Zadkovich. Up front Griffiths will be partnered with the likes of Taggart.

There remains a number of Jets players who are out of contract and whose future with the club is uncertain. These include Michael Bridges, Byun Sung-hwan, Labinot Haliti and Mario Simic.

It looks like Bridges will get a new deal, but former English striker Francis Jeffers has already left the club and it appears unlikely that Byun and Haliti will remain.

Van Egmond will need to boost his centre-forward ranks and marquee signing from overseas could lift the spirits of supporters.

Which ever way he goes, it’s sure to be a very different looking Newcastle Jets side that takes the field in 2012-2013.

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