BEN Kennedy is back in goal and is set to be joined by five other new faces as coach Phil Stubbins looks for a way to kick-start the Jets’ A-League campaign against Western Sydney Wanderers at Pirtek Stadium on Saturday.
Desperate to stop the rot after a spiritless 4-0 loss to Brisbane Roar, Stubbins has wielded the axe.
The coach will finalise the side on Saturday, but assistant Clayton Zane confirmed that Mark Birighitti would be replaced by Kennedy.
Among a raft of changes, defenders Sam Gallagher and Taylor Regan, midfielders Zenon Caravella and Ben Kantarovski and striker Joel Griffiths are also expected to make way.
Griffiths is the only swap due to injury. He has an infection in his right foot, and although it has improved with antibiotics, he conceded he was an ‘‘outside side chance for the bench at best’’.
Scott Neville returns at right back after missing the Roar debacle with a groin strain.
Marcos Flores, Jeronimo, Sam Gallaway and Allan Welsh are the other likely inclusions.
Defender Nick Cowburn has been plucked out of youth league to sit on the bench.
The Jets player of the year for 2010-11, Kennedy has been forced to bide his time since the arrival of Birighitti two seasons ago.
A knee injury hindered the home-grown keeper’s cause during Birighitti’s maiden campaign. The Perth-born Birighitti was named player of the year that season and has made the spot his own.
‘‘BK has been very patient,’’ Zane said. ‘‘It was a tough call.
‘‘We said it last year: we are in a position where we have two first-team keepers.
‘‘It is more that Phil feels there is a need for a bit of a shake-up now, and that is one.
‘‘With Adrian Madaschi in the team alongside Kew [Jaliens], centrally we have two experienced players.
‘‘BK has been around the traps a bit longer than Mark.
‘‘Being away from home, we know this is probably the most hostile atmosphere and the best crowd the boys will have to play in front of.
‘‘It is more about making sure centrally that we are very tight, experienced and we have some good heads in there.
‘‘BK is very good with his feet and is calm at playing out. Playing out is something Phil wants to do.
‘‘He also has that presence in goal. Centrally it makes us really tight.
‘‘At the same time Mark Birighitti should not put his head down too much because we know what an asset he is to the club.’’
On the cusp of Socceroos World Cup selection six months ago, Birighitti has been struggling for form and confidence. He has been unconvincing in dealing with crosses, and his distribution against the Roar was poor, sending several clearances into touch on the full.
The 23-year-old suffered a similar dip at the end of last season, which coincided with talks of a move to German club Bayer Leverkusen.
Kennedy played the final four games, which included clean sheets in wins over Wellington (5-0) and Adelaide (2-0).
Since making his debut in the opening round of the 2006-07 season, Kennedy has made 91 appearances in nine seasons. He was first choice for three seasons, playing 21, 26 and 24 games, before former coach Gary van Egmond signed Birighitti.
Zane said Kennedy would get an extended run in the role.
‘‘Goalkeeper is a little bit different, being a specialised position,’’ he said.
‘‘It is not a position you can continually chop and change.
‘‘Biris has had six games. It would be unwise of us as a club to put BK in for one week if the game doesn’t go how we think it will go.’’
Like the Jets, Wanderers have struggled early as they combined their successful exploits in the Asian Champions League with A-League commitments.
After four straight losses on the road, they picked up their first point from a scoreless draw with Central Coast at home on Wednesday.
‘‘It is not a bad time to go down and take [them] on, but at the same time we know what they can bring to the table when they are in form,’’ Zane said.
He said fans had ‘‘every right’’ to vent their disappointment after the dismal Roar game and was confident there would not be a repeat.
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