Overhauled Jets ready to fly

Overhauled Jets ready to fly into W-League campaign

The first test of Newcastle Jets coach Wayne O’Sullivan’s revamped women’s soccer program will come tomorrow when the W-League kicks off.

The Jets leave Newcastle today for Adelaide ahead of their first-round clash at Hindmarsh Stadium tomorrow at 2.30pm.

The Jets failed to win a match last year, but O’Sullivan believes his new-look side has the ingredients to turn that around this year, starting with a win tomorrow.

Buoyed by funding from Northern NSW Football, O’Sullivan has overhauled women’s soccer in Newcastle in an attempt to create a more professional environment with a focus on youth development.

Boosted by 14 returning squad members, a productive off-season and star signings including Matilda Thea Slatyer, Brisbane Roar’s Sasha McDonnell, Melbourne Victory’s Kara Mowbray, and US imports Niki Cross from San Francisco-based FC Gold Pride and Boston Breakers goalkeeper Allison Lipshe, the Jets go into the game with confidence.

“We’ve had five months with 14 of the girls, nine weeks with the new girls and two weeks with the US girls,” O’Sullivan said.

Slatyer returns to the squad fresh from a national tour of Asia and Germany.

The Jets will be without Cross due to a knee injury sustained at a training camp in Coffs Harbour.

“[Cross] split her knee open in the last minute of a game and ended up with seven stitches,” O’Sullivan said.

“It’s a minor setback, but we’ve got a bye next week so it seems silly to risk her.”

Maddy Searl remains on the injured list but is expected to make a return within weeks from injury.

O’Sullivan said he was quietly confident ahead of the season-opening match.

“Adelaide has gone through many changes, like us, this year,” O’Sullivan said.

“We don’t know much about them and all we can do is focus on us, we know what we can do.”

O’Sullivan believes Sydney and Brisbane, who face off in a grand final rematch in the W-League televised game of the week on Saturday at Ballymore Stadium, will set the standard.

The match will be shown on ABC from 3pm. Perth Glory host Canberra United on Sunday in the other round-one match.

The Jets have a bye next week before hosting their first home game, the November 20 round-three clash at Wanderers Oval against Brisbane.

It will be the first of five home games.

They will feature in the televised match of the round on December 10 when they play Canberra at EnergyAustralia Stadium.