Jets give Austin fresh start after Victory exit


Winger Mitch Austin has been handed a lifeline by Newcastle Jets after being cut by Melbourne Victory at the end of last season.

The 27-year-old flier’s second season with Kevin Muscat’s men was wrecked by a ruptured ACL and to add insult to injury, he was released by the club just days after their contentious A-League grand final win against the Jets.

Austin will either be signed as an injury replacement for promising youngster Joe Champness - out for at least 10 weeks with a foot fracture - or on a permanent deal.

He’s expected to arrive at the Hunter on Friday for a medical, with coach Ernie Merrick prepared to offer him the chance to resurrect his stalled A-League career.

English-born Austin was plucked from non-league football in the UK by Central Coast Mariners in 2015, scoring five times in 23 appearances before being poached by the Victory.

He scored three times in 19 appearances in his debut season at AAMI Park, but managed just five games in 2017-18 before injury struck back in November.

Matthew Ridenton from Wellington Phoenix is the Jets’ sole addition to date, with striker Roy O’Donovan banned for the first 10 games of the season and goalkeeper Jack Duncan moving to Saudi Arabia.

However, the club have retained 10 of their starting side from last season’s decider.