Bridges excited for starting role

Michael Bridges says he is looking forward to once again linking up with his former England under 18’s teammate Emile Heskey.

There was a time earlier this season when Hunter Ports Newcastle Jets forward Michael Bridges thought his chances of ever making a starting appearance for the Jets again were done.

Now the 34-year-old former English Premier League striker has the opportunity to help the Jets qualify for their first A-League Finals Series since his arrival at the Club in 2009/10.

Jets head coach Gary van Egmond revealed on Wednesday that Bridges will start alongside Emile Heskey in Friday night-s crucial showdown with Melbourne Heart at Hunter Stadium.

“I didn-t think a start would come, but obviously you work hard everyday, you keep battling on,” Bridges said.

“You never know with injuries, suspensions or a change of formation what could happen. It is great to get the nod to have a crack out there.

“I-ve already had a taste of life off the field and I didn-t enjoy it. You want to get back on the park and that-s where I want to be.

“You get 30 minutes here, 15 minutes there and you want to help out in any aspect that you can.

“It-s great to get a chance and an opportunity but you-ve got to grab it and that-s what I-m going to do.”

Bridges has made eight substitute appearances for the Jets this season and he admitted it had been frustrating only being able to have a minor involvement on match day.

“It-s a hard pill to swallow, but at the end of the day it-s a team environment,” he said.

“I-m not bigger than this football club, the boys know that and if you-re not in the team you work damn hard to get back in.

“We-ve got a lot of young kids here and hopefully I can keep trying to set examples that if you work hard the chance will come.

“Obviously, Gary-s the manager, he picks the team and you-ve got to stick by that and hopefully your chance will come. If you toss it in, you won-t get that chance.”

Bridges said he was looking forward to once again linking up with his former England under 18-s teammate Heskey.

“I think it-s 17 years on that we-re getting a chance to have a gig together again. We do it in training regularly and it-s going to be great,” he said.

“We-ve both got footballing brains, we-ve played at the highest level and hopefully we can just bring something different and make Melbourne Heart think about something.

“I-ll be up top, but I-ll try and drop into the hole and get on the ball as much as I can in behind their midfield and try to feed the boys running in behind to create chances and hopefully goals.”

With Newcastle one of six teams, including the Heart, who are still fighting it out for the final two spots in the A-League Finals Series, Bridges said the Jets are after nothing less than all three points on Friday.

“That-s our objective. We-ve said we want to finish in the top six and we slipped out last week,” Bridges said.

“It-s so tight down at the bottom and we know that this win can get us back in there.

“The positive is that we have four home games out of the seven remaining and that-s what we-re looking at.

“If we get some great results at home we-re in the top six and it-s anybody-s game after that.”

Newcastle Jets v Melbourne Heart Friday, February 15 Hunter Stadium Kick-off 7.30pm (Gates open 6.30pm) Tickets from PROticket.