Jeffers for Jets?

The Newcastle Jets have flown out former England international Francis Jeffers to assess him for a 10-week guest stint with the club.

The Newcastle Jets have flown out former England international Francis Jeffers to assess him for a 10-week guest stint with the club.

Jeffers, the former Everton and Arsenal striker who scored against Australia in his only England appearance, arrived in Newcastle last weekend and has been training with the Jets under the watchful eye of Newcastle head coach Branko Culina.

“You can see he has got a better touch than the average player but his fitness is a fair-bit off, but you can only help that if you are training I suppose,” Culina said at training on Wednesday.

“But we will make a decision on him in the next couple of days. We don’t want to keep him here for too long if we don’t sign him,”

Culina felt 29-year-old Jeffers wasn’t normally the style of player they were looking for but with skipper Michael Bridges sidelined for another two months with a knee injury and Kiwi international Jeremy Brockie also injured for an extended spell, the Jets are in dire need of a proven goal-scorer.

“Looking at him he is not a target man, and it would require us to change our style of play, but if it meant scoring goals then I would be prepared to do that,” Culina said.

“But it is a big outlay so we have to feel quite confident he can do the job for us.”

The diminutive Jeffers, who earned the nickname ‘the fox in the box’ for his goal-poaching style, has been a free agent since being released by Sheffield Wednesday in May and sees the chance to join the Jets as a way to re-ignite his career.

The Merseyside junior was touted as the next big thing in English football when he debuted for Everton at age 16 against Manchester United at Old Trafford and went on to score 18 goals in 49 games for the Toffees.

He starred again when he scored the only goal for England in their embarrassing 3-1 defeat by Australia at Upton Park in 2003, but his career soured when he was transferred to Arsenal where he was used sparingly by Arsene Wegner and only scored four goals in 22 games.

Since then he has had stints at Championship sides Ipswich Town and Sheffield Wednesday without living up to his former glory.

While not wanting to be officially interviewed before he signed a contract Jeffers said he was impressed with the set-up at the Jets and loved the town of Newcastle and was keen to impress the Hunter-based club to win a contract.

Meanwhile, the Jets were also looking over Brazilian striker Rodolfo Kumbrevicius as an injury replacement for Brockie.

The tall muscular striker, who has played for a number of clubs, stepped straight off a plane and onto the training pitch to trial with the Jets this week.

“He likes to shoot, a lot,” Culina said of Kumbrevicius. “But we can’t be too quick to judge people after a 30-hour flight but the reason he was brought out here was he provided us with an option.”

“We are looking at having Brockie sidelined for six to eight weeks so it is a short-term injury replacement so we will give him a few more days to see how he goes.”