NEWCASTLE Jets officials have not given up hope of retaining Riley McGree, scorer of perhaps the most famous goal in the club’s history, for next season.
McGree, a loan signing from Club Brugge, played in 12 games for Newcastle and scored five goals, including his much-publicised “scorpion kick” goal in the 2-1 semi-final win against Melbourne City.
But in the lead-up to last week’s grand final, Jets coach Ernie Merrick admitted they would “probably lose” the 19-year-old midfielder at the end of this season.
Newcastle chief executive Lawrie McKinna, however, told the Newcastle Herald on Thursday that the club remained hopeful of enticing McGree back for another season, possibly on loan.
The prospects of that transpiring will depend on whether McGree is considered a first-team option by Brugge, who have him signed to a long-term contract.
“That’s up to Club Brugge now,” McKinna said.
“We’re interested in keeping him, and we’re speaking to Club Brugge.
“We’d definitely be interested in getting him on loan, but it won’t happen quickly. It will depend what they want to do with him.
“If he’s to come back to the A-League, we hope he comes back to us, because he was great for us, and he’s a nice boy as well.”
McKinna dismissed suggestions that Newcastle might be a possible destination for Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta, who is apparently considering a move to the A-League or Asia.
“I don’t know why our club has been mentioned,” McKinna said.
“We’ve had no contact with any agents or anybody. How many marquees do you think we can afford?
“As Donald Trump would say, it’s fake news.”
Meanwhile, Jets striker Roy O’Donvan flew home to Ireland on Thursday and will face Football Federation Australia’s disciplinary-and-ethics committee on Tuesday via video call.
FFA’s match-review panel has charged O’Donovan with “serious foul play” after he was sent off in the dying minutes of Newcastle’s 1-0 grand final loss for a flying kick that caught Melbourne Victory goalkeeper flush in the face.
Jets officials maintain that O’Donovan’s challenge was accidental and that his vision was obscured by a fractured eye socket he suffered earlier in the match.
He will be represented at the hearing by a Professional Footballers Australia barrister, and there is a possibility that as part of O’Donovan’s defence, the committee will be asked to consider an incident on Wednesday in the English Premier League match between Huddersfield and Chelsea.
Chasing a high, bouncing ball, Huddersfield striker Laurent Depoitre raised a boot and collided heavily with Chelsea keeper Willy Caballero.
As Caballero dropped to the turf, injured, Depoitre showed composure to regain possession and score.
The goal was allowed to stand in a 1-all draw that allowed Huddersfield to avoid relegation.
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