NEWCASTLE Jets captain Ryan Griffiths says local fans at tonight’s big Northern Inland Football A-League Challenge are in for a treat.
The Jets take on two-times reigning premiers, the Brisbane Roar, at Scully Park in Tamworth from 6.30pm and it promises to be an exciting contest for the mix of Jets supporters and casual sports fans in the stands.
“I think the fans or even the non-fans who are interested will definitely see a good game,” Griffiths said.
“These are two sides who like to play football and it’s an attractive style of football.
“In the A-League these are the two sides who play more of a European style of game.
“It’s fast-paced and it will definitely be entertaining.”
The Roar is the best domestic test the Jets could possibly face at this time of year.
They have already played two friendly, and not-so friendly, matches and tonight’s game is is not their last.
They also have games against three other A-League clubs lined up before the start of the season.
“We’re pretty happy with our schedule,” Griffiths said.
“It would have been good to have an overseas trip in there but the sides we’re playing really are the top teams.
“We’re playing the benchmark, Brisbane, and that will really show us where we are as a team.”
Most of the Jets’ big stars will be on show tonight, with only Tiago Calvano (suspended), Connor Chapman (Young Socceroos duty), Ben Kennedy and Josh Brillante (injured) ruled out.
That includes a lot of the club’s new signings – and there are plenty of them, like Scott Neville, Bernardo Ribeiro and keeper Mark Birighitti.
“So far they’ve done the job,” Griffiths said of the new recruits.
“We’ve got a lot of young players who have adapted to our training structure and the physicality of first grade.
“They’re ready to step up.”
For those on the fringe of the squad, trial games like tonight’s clash are particularly important.
They are trying to impress coach Gary van Egmond and staff before the start of the season proper but Griffiths said it was a tough job to pick a side because of the club’s depth.
“We’ve got a very even squad this year,” he said.
“If there’s an injury we’ve got guys who can slot in and fill that gap.
“We didn’t have that last year.”
The Roar flew in yesterday and will be without Thomas Broich, Mitch Nichols and Do Dong-Hyun for the game.
Griffiths and his side trained at Scully Park yesterday and gave the surface a tick of approval.
“We’re pretty happy with the pitch,” he said.
“They’ve done a really good job with all that.
“There aren’t many fields in Newcastle that are like this.
“It’ll be good to play on this one.”
Gates open at 5.30pm for a 6.30pm kickoff.
NEWCASTLE: Scott Neville, Josh Mitchell, Dominik Ritter, Ben Kantarovski, James Brown, Ruben Zadkovich, Bernardo Ribeiro, Ryan Griffiths, Sam Gallaway, Taylor Regan, Criag Goodwin, Jobe Wheelhouse, James Virgili, Jacob Pepper, Michael Bridges, Mark Birighitti (gk), Marko Jesic, Mitchell Oxborrow, Jack Duncan.
BRISBANE: Michael Theo, Matt Smith, Shane Stefanutto, Matt Jurman, Erik Paartalu, Besart Berisha, Massimo Murdocca, Henrique, Ben Halloran, Rocky Visconte, Luke Brattan, Jack Hingert, Matt Acton, Nick Fitzgerald, George Lambadaridis, Yuji Takahashi.