Eager Milligan joins the Champions

Olyroo skipper Mark Milligan has today expressed his excitement at getting back into playing regular football after signing with the defending Hyundai A-League Champions, the Newcastle Jets, yesterday.

Olyroo skipper Mark Milligan has today expressed his excitement at getting back into playing regular football after signing with the defending Hyundai A-League Champions, the Newcastle Jets, yesterday. The deal will see Milligan play for seven weeks this season as a guest player as well as the entire 2009/2010 Hyundai A-League season.

After returning home from a series of trials in Europe, Milligan is now champing at the bit to don the gold jersey of the Jets and take to the football pitch.

“I haven-t felt like this since I was a little kid,” he explained. “I haven-t wanted to play so much and just get back involved in it. The last few years have been pretty hectic with obviously being fortunate enough to be involved in the World Cup and the Asian Cup, so I haven-t had a lay-off in a long time. I just miss playing, I miss training and I just want to get back on the park.”

“It-s good to be secured now at the Jets and back training. I only have one focus now and that-s to get my head down, work hard and try and break into ‘Dutchy-s- squad over the next week or so,” Milligan said today.

Much was written about the talented 23-year-old during the recent off-season, with reports linking him to a variety of high-profile clubs throughout Europe. However, circumstances and regulations prevented Milligan from joining any of these clubs and saw him return to Australia to train with his new Jets teammates during the week.

“There was a lot of speculation about where I was at and what I was doing but there was only a couple of clubs that I actually went to. I wasn-t heading overseas for the sake of heading overseas, I wanted to do it to better myself, to better my career and unfortunately things didn-t work out. So coming home and being given a chance here is outstanding,” said Milligan.

Milligan has already made an impression on Newcastle-s Head coach Gary van Egmond, who is certain to bring the six-time Qantas Socceroo into his line-up as soon as possible after James Holland, Ben Kantarovski, Marko Jesic and Jason Naidovski departed the country today, bound for the AFC Under-19 Championships to be held in Saudi Arabia.

“It-s still going to be a couple of weeks at least before Mark hits his straps but once he gets his match fitness up and he starts to get his rhythm he-s going to be an important part of the jigsaw puzzle for the Newcastle Jets,” said last season-s Hyundai A-League Coach of the Year.

“I think the timing of it is really important as well, Mark is a player of real quality and he is proven at A-League level and obviously at international level. It is very timely in the fact that we-re losing four Under-20 boys as well and it gives the whole group a boost and a real lift coming into the rest of the season.”

“Mark-s a very ambitious person as well and I like players who have got ambition. He obviously wants to do a job here and now with the Newcastle Jets, but he-s looking at furthering his career as far as it can go and he realises that his first port of call is to get playing and getting himself back into the National Team and hopefully we can facilitate that here,” explained van Egmond.

This Friday evening, the Jets will take on the Central Coast Mariners, who will be hungry to bounce back from their shock 1-0 loss at home to the Wellington Phoenix in Round 8 of the Hyundai A-League.

Van Egmond today explained that his side is looking forward to the F3 derby, which is sure to be another passionate encounter.

“Both teams are on ten points; it-s a very important game for both lots of players. We enjoy the contest. We know that there-s always a little bit more added spice to the game,” he said.

The Jets will return home next week when they take on Queensland Roar at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Sunday, 2 November. Tickets for this Round 10 clash are available from www.proticket.com.au, or by calling (02) 4915 2345.