Jets name squad to face Sky Blues

Gary van Egmond has named a 16-man Jets squad for Friday night’s A-League season opener against Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium.

Hunter Ports Newcastle Jets head coach Gary van Egmond has named a 16-man Jets squad for Friday night-s Hyundai A-League season opener against Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium.

Van Egmond indicated that the Jets- line-up would contain few surprises, with the starting XI likely to be made of those players who have featured prominently this pre-season.

“We-ve obviously had the pre-season games and at this stage we feel that is the XI that will start,” van Egmond said.

“We-ve spoken to the boys and told them that it-s not just going to be 11 players that gets us through this game or the whole of the season.

“We-re going to have to make sure that everyone who is in this squad is ready.”

Newcastle will be without Michael Bridges for the clash, with the 35-year-old Englishman unable to recover from a groin injury in time to take his place in the Jets- line-up.

“We gave him a bit of a run yesterday and he was just a bit tight when he started to open up,” van Egmond said.

“We-ve got a nine-day turnaround from the Sydney game to Perth, so that should give him ample time to get ready for this game.”

Van Egmond said loan signing Nathan Burns will to slot into the central attacking midfielder role in Bridges- absence.

“Nathan can play in various roles across the front third, but he really enjoys playing as a number 10 and that-s where he-ll play tomorrow,” he said.

While media reports have indicated the Sky Blues have their own injury concerns, van Egmond said the Jets would not be too concerned by which players take the field for their opponents on Friday.

“It doesn-t matter to us,” van Egmond said.

“They-ll put out a competitive team, they-re playing at home, they-ll have the crowd behind them and we-ve been written off.

“We-ll just go down and get ready for the game as we would any other week.”

Van Egmond said the Jets were eagerly anticipating getting the season underway in front of what is expected to be a big crowd in Sydney.

“It-s been a long time coming with such a long pre-season, but we-re staring to get that cross between excitement and nerves and that-s a really nice feeling,” van Egmond said.

“The stability of the group has been paramount and the influx of two or three new players has helped also and we feel very ready for the opening game.”

Meanwhile, van Egmond indicated that marquee striker Emile Heskey is still three to four weeks away from returning from the knee injury he sustained in the pre-season.

“Emile is still probably three or four weeks away and we hope he heals quickly,” van Egmond explained.

“He-s been throwing everything into his rehab, so we hope he can be back a bit earlier, but we won-t take any risks with him.”

The Newcastle Jets will wear their NEW Away Heritage playing strip for the very first time when they face Sydney FC in Friday-s Hyundai A-League season opener at Allianz Stadium.

CLICK HERE to check out some of the new features of the Jets' 2013/14 Away Heritage Strip.

Newcastle Jets v Sydney FC Friday, October 11 Allianz Stadium, Sydney Kick-off 7.30pm

Newcastle Jets Squad: 1. Mark BIRIGHITTI (GK), 2. Scott NEVILLE, 4. Kew JALIENS, 6. Zenon CARAVELLA, 7. Andrew HOOLE, 8. Ruben ZADKOVICH, 10. Nathan BURNS, 11. Craig GOODWIN, 12. Connor CHAPMAN, 15. Josh BRILLANTE, 16. Jacob PEPPER, 17. James VIRGILI 18. James BROWN, 20. Ben KENNEDY, 21. Sam GALLAWAY, 22. Adam TAGGART.