Ex-England striker Emile Heskey will make his debut for Newcastle Jets in its Round 1 match against Adelaide United at Hunter Stadium on Sunday.
Emile Heskey fronts the press at the A-League season launch:
Jets head coach Gary van Egmond on Thursday named a 19-man squad for the clash and revealed Heskey will feature in the fixture.
“I can tell you now, Emile will be involved on the weekend for sure,” Van Egmond said.
“He got through the Tuesday and Wednesday training sessions with no problems. In fact on Wednesday, it was a conditioning session and he got through that quite well.
“He’s reasonably quite fit, but not 100 per cent match fit, but the other part of it is that he’s a competitor and a winner.
“You can see in the training sessions, within his own pride, he won’t allow things to beat him.”
The squad includes new faces Scott Neville, Josh Mitchell, Dominik Ritter, Bernardo Ribeiro, Craig Goodwin, Mark Birighitti, Adam Taggart and Mitch Cooper.
Van Egmond said he is close to finalising which players will start the match against the Reds.
“We’re pretty close top deciding on a starting XI, we’re just tinkering with maybe one or two positions, but on Friday and Saturday, we’ll definitely nut that out,” he said.
“We’ve got the next couple of days to finalise the squad. That will also depend on the type of game we’ll look to play in regards to the players that we finally choose to play on the weekend.”
With Mark Birighitti and Ben Kennedy pushing each other hard in training for the number one spot, Van Egmond gave little away when asked who would be his first choice goalkeeper.
“At the moment we’re in a position where both goalkeepers are doing really, really well,” Van Egmond said.
“They’re pushing each other very hard and there is going to be good competition throughout the whole of the season.”
Adelaide played against Uzbekistan club Bunyodkor in an AFC Asian Champions League quarter final in Tashkent on Thursday (AEST).
“They’re a good team and obviously their form in the ACL has been good,” Van Egmond said.
“They’ve recruited well and they have a very strong squad so we’ll have to be on our game.
“The fact that they’ve been in Uzbekistan as late as last night, they won’t get back here until Friday or Saturday, the fact that the game went into extra-time and with it being our first home game means we really need to get at them.
“We’ll look to take the initiative and really try to press against their team and see how the game pans out from there and look to see tactically what we need to do.
“We know whatever team Kossie (John Kosmina) puts out will be formidable opposition, so we’re prepared for a very, very hard game.”
Goalkeeper Mat Ryan, defender Pedj Bojic and midfielder Oliver Bozanic look to have played their last games for Central Coast Mariners as the A-League champion faces a raft of departures.