Heskey primed for derby

Newcastle's marquee signing Emile Heskey says he is keen to experience his first F3 Derby when the Jets host the Central Coast Mariners at Hunter Stadium on Saturday evening.

Newcastle's marquee signing Emile Heskey says he is keen to experience his first F3 Derby when the Jets host the Central Coast Mariners at Hunter Stadium on Saturday evening.

Speaking in the fan forum on the Jets website, Heskey said he had always enjoyed playing in derby encounters and is looking forward to seeing what one of the Hyundai A-League's most fiercely contested rivalries will offer.

"Derbies are big, not only for the players, but the whole town and the whole city and I'm looking forward to it," Heskey said.

"Obviously the boys have told me that it's a fierce rivalry, as all derbies are.

"Each team thinks they're better than the other one so we all want to get one up over the opposing team and that's what we'll be looking to do.

"The home fans are why you want to be playing, you want to be putting in good performances for them."

The former England forward said he had been impressed with the quality of the A-League and was working on his fitness levels to match what is demanded of the high-tempo and physical nature of the game in Australia.

"I'm gaining fitness every day," Heskey said. "It's a high standard here in Australia and the fitness levels here are up there with the best of them.

"We're just trying to work on things in training and try and take it onto the field because that's the main place to put it together."

Jets coach Gary van Egmond said he had been impressed with how quickly Heskey and the team had gelled, but insisted there was still plenty more to offer in the future.

"I still think he is going to get better," van Egmond said of Heskey this week.

"It was great for him to get on the scoreboard and he's only been in the country for two to three weeks.

"The more time he gets to spend with the team, I think you're going to see the best of him in the next few weeks."

"He has that real presence up front which the other players really feed off.

"People have been talking about how well Craig Goodwin did, and Ryan (Griffiths) did and James Virgili did and a few of the others did against Sydney and that is a lot of the work Emile does to create that space for these players and hopefully that can continue."

Off the pitch, both clubs have done their best to promote the F3 derby with the rivalry's first ever Fan Cam being setup for the match.

A Jets fan and a Mariners fan have been selected to sit beside each other in a fan booth and commentate on the match with the results filmed and broadcast on the websites of both clubs next week.

Tickets for the match have been selling well and a crowd of over 16,000 is expected at Hunter Stadium for the clash.