Newcastle Jets coach Mark Jones could bring defensive recruit Iain Fyfe straight into his starting line-up for Sunday’s F3 Derby.
The Jets have had dreadful luck with injuries so far in the 2016/17 Season, with Jones’ defensive stocks the hardest hit.
As he prepares to face Central Coast Mariners without captain Nigel Boogaard (knee), plus Daniel Mullen (knee), Daniel Alessi (knee) and Lachlan Jackson (ankle).
With Boogaard injuring his knee last week and set to miss six games, Newcastle signed Fyfe on an injury-replacement contract on Friday.
The former Sydney FC and Adelaide United centre-back declared he is “in good shape” and ready to play against the Mariners.
“It’s all confidence. Body-wise, I might be 34 but I’ve got the body of a 24-year-old, I know that because in terms of injuries and soft-tissue stuff, I’ve never had a problem with things like that,” Fyfe told reporters on Friday.
“My mind’s fresh and I feel young, I feel good. I just need to get that sharpness back.”
Fyfe’s last competitive match was the NPL South Australia Grand Final when he helped Campbelltown City defeat Adelaide City 1-0, but Jones declared the veteran is “a good chance” to start on Sunday.
With Ben Kantarovski having recovered from a torn meniscus in his right knee, the Jets are likely to have an experienced central defensive pairing to play Central Coast.
“‘Kanta’ is right to go, so back sooner than we thought and has looked ok during the week,” Jones said.
“So, yeah, he’s a good chance of starting.”
Jones declared that the F3 Derby would be a great opportunity for the Jets to get back on track after three straight defeats.
Newcastle will enter the match in eighth in the Hyundai A-League table, ahead of the ninth-placed Central Coast on goal difference.
“The Mariners have been hot and cold – a little bit like us, I guess – and they’ve got some dangerous players up front and we need to be on our game,” the Jets’ coach said.
If Fyfe gets on the pitch at McDonald Jones Stadium, he will play his first Hyundai A-League match since the 2012/13 Season.
Having not played professional football since he left Iranian club Mes Kerman in 2014, Fyfe insists he will be ready to go on Sunday.
“I still feel I can play at this level, so if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here right now,” he said.