Newcastle Jets will unleash a set of gifted young players who are destined for national stardom when the eighth season of the A-League starts in October, according to chief executive Robbie Middleby.
The club has released several established players in Francis Jeffers, Jeremy Brockie, Tarek Elrich, Ali Abbas, Labinot Haliti, Kasey Wehrman, Byun Sung-Hwan and Nikolai Topor-Stanley since the end of last campaign, when it missed out on a finals spot in the last round of the regular season.
But the development of 17-year-old Joeys captain Connor Chapman and the acquisition of promising James Brown, Mitch Cooper, Adam Taggart, Mitchell Oxborrow, Scott Neville, Craig Goodwin and Josh Brillante has Newcastle's management rubbing its collective hands in expectation of another positive season.
"We've got an exciting mix of experienced and young players," Middleby said.
"I know that many people are saying we have too many young players but I tell you we have got some of the best talented young footballers in the country.
"Brown, Taggart, Chapman are future stars, no doubt about that.
"And they also have the right character for our club and the culture we are trying to establish.
"They are working their socks off in pre-season."
The Jets begin their pre-season trials on Wednesday night with a clash against Northern NSW State League leaders Broadmeadow Magic, with only skipper Jobe Wheelhouse (foot) unavailable.
"Gary Van Egmond wants the team to be super fit and super agile and that's what's happening at the moment," Middleby explained.
"I expect us to make the top six... not least to repay our supporters who have always been loyal to us."
Three months since the club was clinically dead after owner Nathan Tinkler sensationally relinquished his A-League licence, the Jets are determined to make the most of a second chance after the mining magnate later reaffirmed his commitment to the Hunter club.
"We are in the top group of supporters in the competition and we have the second highest membership behind Melbourne Victory," Middleby said.
"We had an average gate of 12,000 last season and I would be happy if we get the same again this season.
"Remember, we were just about dead only a few months ago so we are determined to make the most of this second chance that was given to us.
"If Tinkler did not come back the club would have been finished so we can't blow it now.
"That's the way management and the coaching staff feel. Everybody wants success here."
Middleby said the club was putting in a lot of work behind the scenes to establish a respectable culture designed to attract more quality players to the Hunter.
"The beauty of it is that young and not-so-young players these days are keen to come to Newcastle because of what we're trying to do here," he said.
"Young players believe in our set-up centred on technical staff and medical support and the culture we are creating at the club.
"They must really believe that Newcastle has the right set-up for them to develop their potential and become stars and this is why they have chosen the Jets over other clubs."
Newcastle kicks off its A-League season with a home match against Adelaide United on Sunday 7 October.
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