The Newcastle Jets will be on the look out for another attacking option during the A-League off-season following the departure of Mario Shabow to rivals the Central Coast Mariners for two years from 2018-2019.
The club’s chief executive officer Lawrie McKinna said the Jets, who have confirmed five pre-season games next month across China and Spain, would continue piecing together the “jig-saw puzzle” after Thursday’s announcement.
“This gives us a chance to bring in another attacking player that we think can add to the squad,” McKinna told the Newcastle Herald.
“It’s just like a jig-saw puzzle. You take some pieces out and put other pieces back in. That’s what it’s like in pre-season with the squad.
“You think you’re all secure and then all of a sudden you might sell someone unexpectedly and then you have to start moving people about again.
“It’s not final until it’s final. It’s very loose and very fluid.”
Around the time of hosting last month’s controversial 1-0 grand-final loss to Melbourne Victory, the Jets had 19 members of their 23-player list secured for next season and beyond including World Cup-bound Dimi Petratos and skipper Nigel Boogaard.
Since then there has been some movement at the Newcastle station with marquee Ronny Vargas re-signing and fellow South American Pato Rodriguez departing.
The Jets have also recruited 22-year-old Phoenix midfielder and New Zealand international Matthew Ridenton.
Adding another level of complexity to the situation is the 10-match suspension handed down to striker Roy O’Donovan, who will appeal the severity of that ban in the coming months when he arrives back from holidays in native Ireland, after being sent off for a “flying kick” late in the May 5 decider.
Shabow’s exit is the most recent development.
“You can safely say we have 21 signed, so we’ve still got room for at least a couple of players,” McKinna said.
The return of Riley McGree, who joined the Jets courtesy of a mid-season loan from Belgium club Brugge as an injury replacement for Jake Adelson, is uncertain.
“Riley is an unknown at the moment,” McKinna said.
“We’re talking to his agent all the time, but to be honest it’s not looking likely.”
In terms of former Australian under-20 representative Shabow, who made seven appearances in his maiden campaign for the Jets in 2017-2018, McKinna said the final season of his contract was terminated by mutual agreement.
“[Jets coach] Ernie [Merrick] was keen to keep him, but he [Shabow] felt like he had a better chance elsewhere so we granted him a release, McKinna said.
“We wish him all the best. He’s a lovely boy who fit in well with our club. It was his request, not ours.”
Meanwhile, McKinna confirmed on Thursday a series of international trials for the Jets, starting in China (July 6, 8) and followed by Spain against three unnamed La Liga opponents (July 24-August 4).
Newcastle starts training on June 28.
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