IN-FORM playmaker David Carney is content for Jets fans to see a lot less of him this season than they did when he first joined Newcastle nine months ago.
Seven kilograms less, to be precise.
‘‘I think I’ve gone from 86 kilos to 79,’’ Carney told the Newcastle Herald this week.
‘‘Just training hard and diet. The pre-season helps.
‘‘I probably could do with losing a bit more, but as you get older it gets harder.
‘‘You seem to get heavier as age catches you up, but if I can keep around this weight, and maybe work on my sharpness a bit more and get on the ball a bit more, hopefully I can have a good season.’’
Capped 48 times by the Socceroos, Carney arrived in Newcastle after playing only 16 games in the previous three years for AD Alcorcón (Spain), Bunyodkor (Uzbekistan) and the New York Red Bulls. He appeared in seven games towards the end of last A-League season but only once lasted the full 90 minutes. This season he has started and finished all seven games, and his lethal left boot has become one of Newcastle’s main weapons.
‘‘I’m starting to get fit now and not really thinking about my fitness,’’ he said.
‘‘If I can carry on playing well, I’m only going to benefit the team ... [last season] I never had a pre-season and I just went straight in at the deep end, playing. I had a bit more body fat at the time and I’ve trimmed down a bit.
‘‘I had a hard pre-season and I’ve strung some games together, so I’m starting to feel good now.’’
Jets coach Phil Stubbins said Carney, who turns 31 on Sunday, was starting to reap the benefits of his hard slog and consistent game time.
‘‘We’ve had a few conversations with David about representing himself in association with the talent he’s got,’’ Stubbins said.
‘‘Also getting a physical match-up where we can really get a good balance between the physicality and also the technical abilities he has.
‘‘Obviously we witnessed those against Western Sydney Wanderers with that first goal he set up last week, and also some flashes where he’s got some tricks in the box.’’
Carney said he thought the Jets ‘‘did ourselves proud’’ in last week’s draw against the Wanderers but had to win back the respect of home fans, who booed them off the pitch after the 4-0 loss to Brisbane at Hunter Stadium.
He said a win against Central Coast in Sunday’s F3 derby at the same venue would be the best possible response.
‘‘I think they booed not just the result, but the way we were playing,’’ he said.
‘‘We were too negative. We were going back all the time and from what I’ve seen, Newcastle fans just like the players to be positive and give everything. We all understand that and we’ll try to make amends on Sunday ... we’re going through a tough time at the minute, still searching for our first win, so we need all the support they can give us.’’
By CRAIG KERRY
COACH James Pascoe hopes a fitter Newcastle Jets team will be able to kick-start their National Youth League season with victory over Central Coast Mariners at Weston Park on Saturday.
The second last-placed Jets meet the Mariners from 11am in the round-seven game keen to bounce back from a 2-1 away loss to second-placed Melbourne City.
Second last season, Newcastle have fielded much younger sides so far this campaign and have managed just one win – 5-0 over cellar-dwellers FFA Centre of Excellence – in five matches.
Pascoe believed a shortened pre-season, courtesy of the Jets’ preliminary final run in the Northern NSW National Premier League, was a factor in their flat start to the NYL.
But he saw signs of a turnaround at training this week and was hopeful that transferred to the pitch against Central Coast, who are one point ahead of Newcastle but have played one extra game.
‘‘This week we finished our first six-week conditioning cycle, which in a perfect world we would complete before the season starts,’’ Pascoe said.
‘‘Because our state league season went a few weeks longer than we expected it to go, it meant the boys only got 10 days’ rest. Than we had a 14-day lead-in to the season.
‘‘We’ve been playing catch-up with the groups who had a solid, clean pre-season.
‘‘But the first two sessions this week were the first time I’ve been really happy with the intensity, execution and quality of what we’ve done at training.
‘‘And that old saying of playing like you train is particularly true of youth league players, so I’m hopeful that now we’re getting our proper fitness levels up to compete at this level, we’ll see an upturn in our performance and efficiency.’’
Pascoe was unsure which senior players may come back from the A-League side to boost his team, but he expected Mitch Cooper, Brandon Lundy and goalkeeper John Solari to again play a part.
Reece Papas is the only player missing through injury and faces at least two weeks out with a hamstring strain.
Pascoe said Anthony Kalik and Liam Rose were among the Mariners’ best youngsters, while Korean Kim Seung-yong could also play after featuring in the NYL last week.
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