Charlestown have recruited veteran midfielder Peter McPherson, young Jaffas keeper Alex Bozinovski, former Edgeworth shot-stopper Jim Fogarty and ex-Valentine striker Daniel Ott ahead of their round 15 Northern NSW NPL clash with Lambton on Saturday.
Only two, though, will feature at Edden Oval in what looms as a key game for both clubs.
The Blues are fifth on 19 points, two points behind fourth-placed Lambton Jaffas, after losing four of the past five NPL games but with two games in hand.
They suffered a major blow this week when goalkeeper Danny Ireland, who starred in a penalty shoot-out FFA Cup win over Jaffas, was ruled out for four to six weeks with a thigh strain.
In response, Charlestown have signed Bozinovski, an under 20s back-up at Jaffas, and Fogarty this week.
Fogarty had a two-game deal at the Newcastle Jets in late 2016 after two premiership and grand final wins with Edgeworth, but he lost his place to Nate Cavaliere at the Eagles the next year and left mid-season. This year, Fogarty has been playing AFL with Newcastle City in the Black Diamond league.
Charlestown coach David Tanchevski said Fogarty had other commitments on Saturday, giving Bozinovski a chance to start against his former club.
Another shock return is McPherson, who Tanchevski said would “probably be on the bench this weekend”.
The former Newcastle Jets midfielder, 34, hasn’t played since May last year at Hamilton. He was part of Tanchevski’s grand final-winning Jaffas in 2014.
“He trained with us the other night and he’s just quality on the ball,” Tanchevski said. “He just needs to build up a bit of match fitness over the next few weeks, but it will be good to have him for the back end of the season with the amount of injuries that we’ve got.”
Ott, a former Narrabeen striker, was with Valentine in pre-season but didn’t feature in the NPL. He joined Charlestown this week in the final window for roster changes but is not cleared to play Saturday.
The Blues welcome back Kane Goodchild (hamstring), who hasn’t played since round three, while Kev Davison and Tom Smart return after missing the 3-0 loss to Lake Macquarie.
Despite Charlestown's spot on the ladder, form and hectic schedule ahead, Tanchevski said the Jaffas clash was not “desperation time yet”.
“It’s a pretty tight comp and everyone is taking points off everyone,” he said. “In this comp you only need to win two or three in a row and you’re right back in the mix.”
Also Saturday, second-placed Edgeworth (24 points) host the Jets Youth (17). On Sunday, leaders Broadmeadow (25) welcome Weston (13), Lake Macquarie (12) are at home against Adamstown (15) and Maitland (21) are away to Valentine (7).
** Weston announced late Friday that coach Steve Piggott will not return in 2019.
Piggott, who the club sacked after one season in 2014, is in the second year of a three-year deal at the Bears. He will see out this season.
The Bears said they had a meeting with Piggott on Friday afternoon and their decision was made in what they believed were the best interests of the club. They thanked Piggott for his efforts and wished him all the very best for the future.
Meanwhile, Adamstown coach Shane Cansdell-Sherriff has registered as a player and could feature for Rosebud against Lake Macquarie on Sunday.
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