Newcastle Jets coach Carl Robinson believes attackers Kosta and Maki Petratos can help fill the sizeable void left in his squad by the departure of their brother Dimi.
The Socceroo and eldest in the Petraos family is leaving the Jets to join a club in Saudi Arabia. The 27-year-old playmaker has been a key figure in the Hunter for three years and this season led the A-League in assists.
Robinson has high hopes for younger siblings Kosta, aged 22, and Maki, aged 19. Both have made their A-League debuts, with forward Kosta also representing Australia at Under-17 level, and the Welshman feels Dimi’s exit could prove a blessing in disguise for the pair.
“It’s a very talented football family,” the coach told The World Game.
“They’re different players [compared to Dimi]. But I said to them I think it will actually help them that Dimi’s leaving.
“And I don’t mean that in a bad way, what I mean is at some stage you have to become your own man. And I think that will happen with Kosta.
“Kosta got his opportunities at the end of the season because Kosta’s attitude and work ethic are second to none. They are brilliant.
“He never complains, he never moans, he trains hard, he’s always competing and he’s a very good finisher. He showed that, he got the winner against Sydney FC. Every game he’s had an impact.
“Maki is a little bit different from Kosta, a little bit younger but a really talented boy. I’ve got to tap into his mind to try and make him believe in himself a little bit more at the moment, because I believe at this moment I believe in him more than he believes in himself.
“For any player, and not just Maki, we’ve got some young talent like Jack Simmons, Noah James, a few in the academy, but they’ve got to believe in themselves. So that will be the big thing for Maki.
“Kosta will be a big part of the squad next season. But it’s down the players – how they train and how they play.”
Dimi joined Newcastle in 2017 after a brief spell in Korea with Ulsan Hyundai. Robinson said Petratos, capped three times by the Socceroos, leaves the Jets with his blessing.
“I’m pleased for Dimi,” the 43-year-old said.
“I’m pretty honest with my players, I’m open with them. My door is always open – if they’ve got a problem come and seem. If I can help them, Whether it’s on the field or off the field, come and see me. It’s my job to make them better.
“If I can make them better individually then collectively we become better. Dimi obviously has been in the A-League for a number of years. He flirted with going abroad in the past and it didn’t quite work out.
“And an amazing financial package came in for Dimi and it was based on the first six games he played for me. He was exceptional for me when I first came in.
“I think he’s led the A-League in assists. So it was no surprise that someone came in for him. There’s been other phone calls, not serious interest, but actual general conversations about a number of my players.
“I’m happy if there is interest in my players, because it means they’re doing well. Unfortunately for me with Dimi I’m going to lose a really, really good player and a key component of the team, but for Dimi I’m delighted for him. He goes with my best wishes.”
The Jets have lost also Irish duo Bobby Burns and Wes Hoolahan, while fellow foreigners Abdel Arroyo and Joe Ledley are off-contract. Newcastle has already signed James Donachie but Robinson is hoping to bring in four more new players for the 2020-2021 campaign.
“We’re waiting on the clubs, the FFA and the PFA to sort out the salary cap,” he admitted.
“The sooner they can resort it the better because you have your visa players, we’ve lost Bobby, we’ve lost Wes, we’ve got Arroyo who’s out of contract, and Joe Ledley who’s out of contract, and we’ve lost Dimi, so there’s five really important players.
“Who knows what’s going to happen with the A-League and the exemptions, because it took me quite a while to get an exemption to get back into the country. So foreigners it might not be as easy getting them into the country, so we have to be very careful with that.
“But my first port of call is to see what’s in Australia. I’ve got a really good core of young players. But I do know I need probably three, ideally five, but I’d be happy with four new players.
“Where they’ll come from? I don’t know. We’re not one of the biggest spending teams, we know that. There’s potential new owners trying to come in and buy the club, so where we sit with that is a little bit grey at the moment.
“So I don’t know. If you’re asking me if I can go spend money on two marquee players like Sydney FC or Melbourne City, the reality is no, probably not. So I have to go and find out little gems, hidden gems to enhance the squad.
“I’m going to go top to bottom in Australia, look at different youth teams within the A-League with players that haven’t played, or fringe players in A-League squads that may be able to come in and help me in the short-term and obviously help them in the long-term.
“It sounds easy, but it’s about giving players opportunity. I’m scouring at the moment.”