Van Egmond happy with competition for spots

Gary van Egmond says competition for places within the Jets' line-up is heating up following today's intra-club trial.

Hunter Ports Newcastle Jets head coach Gary van Egmond says he was pleased to see the way the younger members of the Jets squad stepped up their performance in Wednesday-s intra-club trial at Hunter Valley Grammar School.

The Jets Youth Team defeated the Jets First XI 2-1 and while van Egmond admitted he wouldn-t be reading too much into the result, he said it was encouraging to see the younger Jets challenging their more experienced counter-parts.

“There were a number of first team players playing for the youth team and I think the basis of both teams were first grade,” van Egmond explained.

“But it was good to see the competition for places hotting up at this stage of our pre-season and that can only be good for all and sundry as far as the team is concerned.

“It was good to see some of the younger ones really challenging to try and get themselves into that starting echelon.

“The one thing about these young players that have come in is that they expect to play.

“They-re not there to make up the numbers, they-re not there to bide their time, they believe they want to play and that-s a good thing.

“From a competition basis, it puts all the players on notice.”

Van Egmond said he was pleased with the intensity and physicality of the trial match.

“It was difficult conditions, obviously with the fact that it was very, very greasy and the pitch is a lot narrower and shorter than what we-re used to, but the intent from all the players was excellent,” he said.

“We want to work on being able to create opportunities in our front third and to be able to cope with the pressure that opposition teams are putting on us.

“For us today, that was a really good run out to see where some of the players are.

“It-s more so about getting games into their legs and you can see the ones who have had the full pre-season and the ones who have had an interrupted pre-season.

“They just need to get more game time and today we were able to enable that which was a real positive.”

After spending time on the sidelines through injury in recent weeks, Marko Jesic and Jobe Wheelhouse both played their first matches of the Jets- pre-season campaign.

“Marko got through about 60 minutes and Jobe got through all of the second half, so that-s a real positive for them to keep on building on that,” van Egmond said.

“We-ve got eight to 10 weeks before our first game so there-s plenty of time for them to come back and get to the point where the other boys are.

“It-s just a matter of them working on the training field and getting back up to that speed.”

A large crowd of Hunter Valley Grammar students turned up to watch the fixture with the Jets players sticking around to sign autographs and mingle with the children afterwards.

“All-in-all it was fantastic to get the game in and a big thanks has to go to Hunter Valley Grammar for allowing us to play here,” he said.

“For the players to play in front of the kids was a real bonus.”