Pepper looking to step-up for Jets

Jacob Pepper says the remarkable rise of ex-team-mates Josh Brillante and Adam Taggart has him primed to live up to his undoubted potential for the Newcastle Jets in the upcoming Hyundai A-League season.

Brillante and Taggart were standouts for the Jets last season, which saw the pair called into Ange Postecoglou’s Socceroos squad as well as earning dream moves to Europe.

The versatile Brillante has made quite an impression at Serie A club Fiorentina, while Taggart will push hard for a starting spot at Fulham once he returns from injury.

Pepper saw firsthand the pair’s incredible journey and it’s given him confidence he could follow a similar path with a big season for Jets.

“It was great to see Joshy (Brillante) and Taggs (Taggart) kill it last season,” Pepper told www.a-league.com.au

“It just goes to show every young player in the A-League that if an opportunity rises, it only takes one good season for your dreams to be fulfilled.

“I’m 22 now and most people around my age should be starting to cement a starting eleven or at least a spot in the 16 week in, week out.

“That’s definitely one of my goals this season. I really want to get that consistency in my game and help the team have a really successful season.”

Pepper has been in and out of the Jets side for the last couple of seasons, making 50 appearances since debuting as a teenager in 2010.

The West Wallsend junior feels the time is now right to establish himself as a regular starter.

Injuries to Billy Celeski and Ben Kantarovski means the Jets have a shortage in the midfield, with Pepperthe front-runner to start their for the round one derby against Central Coast Mariners.

Equally at home in midfield or at the back where he has played the last couple of season, the 22-year-old is relishing the chance to try and cement a spot in the centre of the park.

“The first couple of years in the A-League, midfield was my main role,” Pepper said.

“Then I found myself venturing to right-back for a bit but after a game or two under your belt (in midfield again) it comes back to you a lot quicker.

“For me at this stage of my career it’s about getting game time and if it’s stepping into the midfield and doing a job for the team, I’ll work 100 percent the best I can and help the team out as much as possible.

“Me and Phil (coach Phil Stubbins) have sat down and discussed things and how my game can improve and I can contribute to the team.

“It’s all about keeping the ball moving. We’ve just got to focus on keeping the ball as best as we can then creating opportunities. 

"I’m feeling very excited for that first game, especially as its against our rivals the Central Coast.”

The Jets will round out their pre-season schedule against Paul Okon’s Young Socceroos at Gosford on Saturday before their season opener at the same venue against the Mariners two weeks later. 

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