Connor Chapman could be in line to start his first A-League match when the Jets take on Melbourne Heart on Saturday.
Hunter Ports Newcastle Jets defender Connor Chapman could be in line to start his first A-League match when the Jets take on Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park on Saturday evening.
Jets head coach Gary van Egmond indicated that Chapman is likely to come into one of the centre-back roles for Brazilian Tiago Calvano, who will not travel with the team to Melbourne.
“Someone like young Connor Chapman, he-s 18 years of age, but he-s done very well here in Newcastle when he played in the NBN State League, even though it-s a different level of course,” van Egmond said.
“He-s done really well in the youth team games when he-s been playing and he-s been a real standout in those games.
“He-s just come back from the Young Socceroos who have qualified for the World Cup and I spoke with (Australian U-20-s coach) Paul Okon and he was very high in his praise for Connor.
“He deserves his chance and I think it-s important to give these young ones the opportunity.”
Van Egmond said he had confidence that Chapman would have no troubles coping with the Heart-s tactic of applying defensive pressure high up the park.
“He-s a very level-headed boy, comfortable on the ball and he-s come through the system in regards to knowing how to play out from the back,” van Egmond said.
“Positionally he understands it, his decision making on the ball is very good, he-s technically very good and he-s definitely able to cope.
“He-s a genuine leader. Of course he-s a little bit young to lead senior teams at the moment but in the next two or three years he-s definitely one who-ll step up and be a leader of the team.”
Van Egmond also revealed that attacking midfielder Bernardo Ribeiro is likely to have a more prominent role in this weekend-s match.
The Brazilian has made two brief substitute appearances for the Jets so far this season, but could have the opportunity for more substantial minutes against the Heart.
“Bernardo is definitely understanding his role a lot better,” van Egmond said.
“I think we might have been relying on a couple of other guys in regards to (providing) something a little bit instinctive. I think maybe that hasn-t as much as we would have liked.
“The one thing Bernardo can give you is a point of difference. He deserves his spot, he-s been training hard and he understands his defensive duties a lot better now.
“He also understands the physicality of the league here because that-s also something you need to get used to as well and he deserves his chance.
“It-ll be a good test for him and one he-s really looking forward to. He-s waited a while now to get his opportunity and this weekend he-ll get it.”
In other team news, Dominik Ritter and Craig Goodwin have both recovered from injuries that saw them miss last weekend's loss to Wellington.
The pair will travel with the team to Melbourne, however van Egmond said Goodwin-s role may be limited.
“Craig I wouldn-t say is 100% fit, but he-s pretty close and with that in mind he-s probably best being utilised off the bench to make an impact,” he said.