Pepper's taking his chances

With a string of head turning pre-season performances under his belt, Jacob Pepper is pushing all the right selection buttons

With a string of head turning pre-season performances under his belt, Jacob Pepper is pushing all the right selection buttons.

Talk to Coach Branko Culina or any of the Jets senior squad and they-ll all tell you the young midfielder is on their ‘players to watch list-.

Pepper will get another chance to push for selection in Cessnock this weekend when the Jets host Sydney FC at Baddeley Park and he-s planning to make the moment count in front of a vocal home crowd.

“I-m really looking forward to playing against Sydney. It will be a real test as they are the strongest opposition we are yet come up against in the pre-season,” Pepper said.

“Hopefully I will get a good run and match time. I have been lucky so far this pre-season. I have gained a lot of match time and I have really enjoyed that so I hope it continues into the last match.”

Pepper has been a shining light for the Jets throughout their undefeated run of pre-season trial performances. With a number of key players out due to representative duties and injury, the depth of the 2011/1012 A-League squad has come into play.

With just one trial match remaining between this Saturday-s hit out and the season proper, Pepper says he-s out to benefit from as much game time as possible.

“I will give it all I-ve got on Saturday as it is the last time to prove myself this pre-season. We have two training sessions left before we meet Sydney FC, so hopefully I pull up well after both sessions,” Pepper added.

“However, at the end of the day it is up to Branko to determine who takes the field, but I will be doing my best wherever I fit in during the match.”

Pepper made his senior debut last December in a game he would rather forget - a four goal loss at the hands of Wellington Phoenix.

He-s since spent extended periods on the pitch with the likes of Nikolai Toppor-Stanley, Tarek Elrich and Kasey Wherman and received glowing praise from his senior counterparts.

“It-s always good to hear that you are doing well, especially from my fellow, extremely talented, teammates. However the help and confidence that the boys have given me has been great. They believe in me and push me to achieve bigger things. I thank them for being so encouraging,” he said.

But this weekend is a chance to reap the rewards of a long pre-season on the road and Pepper is looking forward to the experience of returning to play on home turf in front of the Jets faithful.

“It is always the best outcome to play in front of your home crowd. I wish to show them my best game, prove to them that I deserve to be wearing the Jets strip. It will be great to feed off their energy, I just hope we play well and entertain them.”