Newcastle Jets get set for China tour

Newcastle Jets will head off on Tuesday to take part in the four-team Free Trade Port Super Champions Cup as their Hyundai A-League 2018/19 pre-season ramps up.

Ernie Merrick will take a relatively young squad to Haikoi in China’s Hainan Province for the tournament which also features Sydney FC and Chinese clubs Beijing Goan, Shanghai Shenhua.

READ: Horrible pre-season ahead: Merrick

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The tournament is taking place at the newly-built Haikou Stadium, with each side guaranteed two games as part of the tournament, which will be held between Friday 6 and Sunday 8 July.

“When the offer came through to take part in the tournament, we immediately identified it as a chance to have a look at some of our younger players,” Merrick said.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for them to get some invaluable game time early in the pre-season.”

The core of Merrick’s Grand Final winning side will remain in Newcastle with the likes of Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Daniel Georgievski and Nigel Boogaard on an alternative training program.

Nigel Boogaard
Nigel Boogaard

Ronald Vargas will continue to rehab after having a pin removed from his ankle, while Dimi Petratos will be given a rest following his return from the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

“Most of our senior players will stay in Newcastle, as they’ll be undertaking a slightly different program off the back of a lengthy and rigorous season in 2017/18,” Merrick added.

“We’ll be taking a couple of players from our youth system including Jack Simmons, Jackson Frendo and Kieran Hayes who have all been really impressive when given the opportunity.

“The boys will be coming into the tournament on a fairly light physical preparation, but the chance to play against a couple of quality outfits in Beijing (Goan) and Shanghai (Shenhua) was something we couldn’t pass up.”

In addition to the inclusion of some of the club’s youth players, the Jets will also be taking Broadmeadow Magic’s James Virgili – who will join the tour as a trialist.

Newcastle Jets squad:

1.Jack DUNCAN, 3.Jason HOFFMAN, 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI, 6.Steven UGARKOVIC, 13.Ivan VUJICA, 16.Nick COWBURN, 18.Johnny KOUTROUMBIS, 19.Kosta PETRATOS, 20.Glen MOSS, 22.Lachlan JACKSON, 23.Matthew RIDENTON, 24.Joe CHAMPNESS, 32.Angus THURGATE; Jack SIMMONS, Jackson FRENDO, Kieran HAYES, James VIRGILLI