Chart-topper: The Newcastle revamp that has Petratos licking his lips
Dimitri Petratos was a very busy man last season.
Shots, chances created and crosses - the Newcastle Jets star topped all of those categories by some margin.
And if it wasn't for some wastefulness on behalf of his teammates, Petratos might have filled his boots even more.
But after a front line revamp from Jets boss Ernie Merrick, the 26-year-old could be set to scale new heights of productivity in the 2019/20 campaign.
The arrivals of former Premier League star Wes Hoolahan, Panamanian international Abdiel Arroyo, and goal-hungry Nick Fitzgerald are all very promising ones for one of the Hyundai A-League's best pullers of strings.
Unfortunately, Petratos will likely have to wait until 2020 to link up with Hoolahan after the Irish maestro underwent ankle surgery on Monday.
INS AND OUTS: Newcastle Jets
“The team is looking strong and we are getting a lot of combinations in the front third, which is going to be very exciting I think," Petratos told www.aleague.com.au.
“A few boys have come in; Wes Hoolahan, Abdiel Arroyo and Nick Fitzgerald have come into the final third.
“The more training we do, the more understanding and combinations we will have with each other, and also the other players that are here as well.
“It’s looking very positive and I think we’ll do very well.”
When the 37-year-old veteran Hoolahan does return to the fold, it is an addition sure to whet the appetite of Jets fans - and indeed Petratos himself.
“He’s an easy player to play with,” Petratos said.
“He’s got a great understanding of football and that’s obvious because he’s played so many games overseas in the Premier League.
“He’s bringing a lot of experience to the team and the club in general, we are enjoying training with him and learning as much as we can off him.”
Newcastle's promising pre-season also augurs well for Petratos' chances of making a big splash in 2019/20.
The Jets progressed to the FFA Cup 2019 Quarter Finals for the first time ever after beating Melbourne Victory and Edgeworth, two ties that saw Petratos at his best.
He tallied three goals and two assists in those matches, and his long-range stunner against Victory was a classic trademark of the Australian.
“At first there was supposed to be a free kick, but we played on so we adjusted to it,” Petratos recalls of the strike that teed up extra time in Newcastle's comeback win against the four-time Hyundai A-League Champions from Melbourne.
“I was going to hit it first time but then I saw the player run out so I thought I’d flick it over him, and it hit the target and went in.
“When I do connect well I have the feeling that ‘this will go on target and go in nicely’, so I get excited.
“When it’s on the way I’m thinking about what to do in celebration.”
Confidence is high for Petratos and his Jets teammates, who are assembling a bid for Hyundai A-League glory under the calm and experienced lead of Scotsman Merrick.
“I’m pretty happy with the pre-season,” Petratos said.
“We’ve played a lot of games so that’s good, of course we do a few runs at the end but the main thing is we get a lot of games and get a good understanding in the front third and throughout the whole team.
“Like every other year it will be a strong competition, but I think the main focus is on ourselves more than other teams and getting our jobs right, getting the combinations and all of that right, and we’ll be ready.”
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