Van Egmond pleased to have Heskey back on deck

Gary van Egmond says he is looking forward to having more time to work with marquee striker Emile Heskey ahead of the season.

Hunter Ports Newcastle Jets head coach Gary van Egmond says he is looking forward to having more time to work with marquee striker Emile Heskey ahead of the 2013/14 A-League season.

Heskey commenced pre-season training with the Jets on Friday morning, giving the former English Premier League star two months to prepare before the start of the A-League season.

“It-s great to have him here so early in the pre-season,” van Egmond said.

“Last year he only got here a week or so before the first game, so from that point of view, it-s a real bonus.

“He-s done quite a bit of strength work, but conditioning is a different aspect and we have to ensure that we move at an appropriate pace with him.

“Today he joined in the warm-up and did the first part of the session. He-ll do some more aerobic type conditioning before we do anything more ballistic with him.

“I would say (his first trial game) two or three weeks away to ensure we get him fight and then start bringing him through with the appropriate minutes that he needs.”

Heskey scored nine goals in 23 appearances for the Jets last season and van Egmond said he is anticipating the striker making an even bigger impact during his second season in the A-League.

“The fact that he-s here with so much time prior to the first game means he can acclimatise to the football environment here,” van Egmond said.

“Also from the point of view that he knows what to expect this year. He knows about the travel, he knows about the weather, he knows about the different teams that we play against.

“From his point of view, he-ll be a lot more knowledgeable as we will be as well.”

Van Egmond said he expected Heskey to receive more support in the front third this season after appearing isolated at certain points during the Jets- 2012/13 campaign.

“I think it was a combination of a number of things,” van Egmond said.

“I think the isolation was more due to the fact we didn-t get people in the right position at certain times, not so much the playing system.

“This year we-re going to have more experienced players in certain positions, mainly due to the fact that they got a whole season under their belt last year.”