RISING midfielder Clare Wheeler believes Newcastle have the depth and versatility to cover the loss of US star Taylor Smith if her W-League season is over.
Smith was stretchered off late in the round-seven 2-2 away draw with Perth on Saturday night with a knee injury. The right-back, a former US national team player, was having scans on Monday but fears were she had suffered season-ending damage.
“She’s been amazing,” Wheeler said of Smith during a Jets’ visit to Ronald McDonald House on Monday.
“She won [our] player of the month last month and the vibrance she brings to the team is great. If worse comes to worse, she’ll still be around the team providing what she can. If anything, it will add fuel to the fire.”
Smith's injury is a major blow for Newcastle, who have seven points from six games, but coach Craig Deans has improved their depth this season.
“Deansy has really invested in the youth as well,” Wheeler said. “A bunch of us have gotten older and more experienced and also the people he’s recruited, he’s retained a lot of players and we are definitely versatile in the way we play.”
The Jets have the bye this week but play the China national team on Thursday and Sunday on the Gold Coast.
“Canberra just versed them as well and from all accounts it’s a great experience so we’re really excited,” Wheeler said.
“It also gives some of the girls who haven’t got game time the opportunity to play.
“Hopefully we see Tara Andrews maybe getting some game time, which is really good for her, and it helps us coming into the second half of the season.”
Andrews is on the comeback trail from a fractured ankle sustained in round two.
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