Jet Elrich set to return

Newcastle defender Tarek Elrich will make his return from off-season surgery when he takes the field in Sunday's trial match against the Brisbane Roar in Port Macquarie.

Newcastle defender Tarek Elrich will make his return from off-season surgery when he takes the field in Sunday's trial match against the Brisbane Roar in Port Macquarie.

Elrich underwent an operation for a long-term groin injury at the end of the 2009/10 Hyundai A-League season and was due to make his return to the pitch a number of weeks ago, however he felt some pain in his groin during his first few pre-season training sessions.

But after an extended rehab he has been passed fit to play against the Roar this weekend and is champing at the bit to get back on the football field.

"At first it was only an eight-week break but it's turned into much longer," Elrich said.

"I've had a few setbacks along the way but I'm just glad to be back training and looking forward to be playing a game with the boys."

"Hopefully I can get through that and get ready for the start of the season."

Elrich, 23, said he is looking forward to the 2010/11 campaign and believes the Jets have recruited strongly in the off-season and will improve on their unexpected 6th place showing last season.

"I think we've got a great squad this season, we've got twenty-plus fit players," he said.

"There are a lot of spots available, a lot of competition for spots and there are two or three players per position."

"Training's a hundred miles an hour and that's how you like it, people who are training well are obviously getting starts so it's good to have that competition."

"I don't think we've really had it that much through the past five seasons so we enjoy it and hopefully it gets us some good results."

Elrich will rejoin the team at a time when the Jets have won all three of their pre-season fixtures to date, including a 2-1 victory over fellow Hyundai A-League side Melbourne Heart, and he believes that the winning culture being created at the club bodes well for the future.

"The boys are great, the boys are happy, it's a happy camp when you're winning so hopefully we can take that into the start of the season and continue on that winning streak," he said.