UP FRONT: Andy Brennan at Jets youth team training on Thursday. Picture: Michael ParrisJETS rookie Andy Brennan will try to kick-start his professional career in the club’s youth team on Saturday after an injury-plagued six months in Newcastle.
Brennan has struggled with a hamstring injury since joining the Jets on a two-year contract from South Melbourne in June,but youth coach Clayton Zane said the 22-year-old would play his second competitive game for Newcastle in the National Youth League match against Wanderers at Popondetta Park in Sydney this weekend.
“There’s been a lot of speculation when he first came to the club. People wanted to see him,” Zane said.
Andy Brennan playing for South Melbourne early 2015“That jump from NPL to A-League, it’s a big jump, just from the training loads, and he’s a very explosive player, so already the risk of muscle injuries is heightened, and then he’s made the jump from a weaker competition to a much stronger one and become a full-time player.
“I think it’s normal what’s happened to him, but, at the same time, as time ticks by, more expectation falls on your head as a result of that.”
Zane hoped the Tasmanian, whose other Jets appearance was as a second-half substitute in the first round of the NYL,would soon be in a position to help the senior squad, who have not scored in four games.
“He’s starting to get to a point now where he’ll hopefully be knocking on the door for the second half of the A-League to get a position on the bench,” Zane said.
“It’s very important, these youth league games, for players who aren’t in the squad, if they use them wisely, they can get back in the frame.”
Brennan has trained as a winger, but Zane predicted a different role for him on Saturday.
“He’s got a lot to prove, and we had a look at him at training this week to potentially play as a No.9 to give him a little bit of confidence to make that jump to the A-League team.This will be a 45- or 60-minute game for him, I think, in his recovery from injury.”
“We’ll look to give him a go in a central position to have more contact in and around the goal for him. That’s one way we’ll try and help him.At the same time he’ll help our team because he’s quick and he can make runs in behind.”
Former coach Phil Stubbins signed Brennan in the final weeks of his and Nathan Tinkler’s reign at the Jets. He played for South Hobart before joining South Melbourne and scored 25 goals in his last Tasmanian NPL season to win the league’s best-and-fairest award.
“He’s on a two-year deal, so he’s fortunate he’s been given a bit of extra time,” Zane said. “Not all state league players get given that luxury.Andy has that real rawness to him, but he’s desperate to get through on goal and get goal-scoring opportunities, and you can’t coach that. He wouldn’t have been brought to the club if he didn’t have some strengths.”
Two other youngStubbins signings, midfielder Josh Barresi and centre back Themba Muata-Marlow, have played most of the season in the NYL and are yet to make the bench in the A-League.Barresi, 20, is nearing the end of his two-yearcontract, but Muata-Marlow, 21, has another year at the club.