Competition for spots heating up

Gary van Egmond says competition for spots in the Jets’ starting XI is as fierce as ever as the start of the season draws nearer.

Hunter Ports Newcastle Jets head coach Gary van Egmond says competition for spots in the Jets- starting XI is as fierce as ever with only a matter of weeks remaining until the start of the 2013/14 Hyundai A-League season.

Van Egmond indicated he would look to field his preferred starting line-up in the Jets trial match against the Central Coast Mariners at Scully Park in Tamworth on Sunday.

“We need to try and ensure we-re giving game time to the players who we deem will be likely to play against Sydney in Round 1, so that-s what we-ll be looking to do against the Mariners this weekend,” Van Egmond said.

“There are still one or two spots across the park that are up for grabs, so we-ll know more after this match.”

Van Egmond said the midfield was one such area where a number of players were staking their claims for a starting role.

“Probably the midfield is one area where there is strong competition, but we have a lot of depth there with the likes of Ruben Zadkovich, Zenon Caravella, Ben Kantarovski, Josh Brillante and Mitchell Oxborrow,” Van Egmond said.

“James Brown, Michael Bridges and Nathan Burns can all play in a number 10 role as well, so we-ve got quite a few good options in that area and it-s just about making sure we-ve got the right balance.”

Van Egmond said he was also yet to decide on a centre-back partner for Dutch international Kew Jaliens.

“That is another contentious one. Both Taylor (Regan) and Connor (Chapman) have been very strong this pre-season and have put forward good cases.

“Scott (Neville) is doing well at right-back and Sam (Gallaway) is doing well at left-back.”

The Mariners are currently taking part in a pre-season competition in Indonesia, but despite their heavy workload, van Egmond said he expected the Jets- local rivals use a line-up closely resembling their best XI on Sunday.

“We-re getting to the stage where you want to work on the team that is most likely to play in Round 1, so I would envisage the Mariners will field a very, very strong line-up,” van Egmond said.

“It will be a good hit-out for both teams and we-re looking forward to it.”

Newcastle Jets v Central Coast Mariners Sunday, September 29 Scully Park, Tamworth Kick-off 2pm Tickets available HERE