Jets wait on stars

The Newcastle Jets are playing a 'waiting game' to decide whether skipper Jade North and goalkeeper Ante Covic will take their place in the squad for Saturday night's Hyundai A-League clash with Sydney FC at EnergyAustralia Stadium.

The Newcastle Jets are playing a 'waiting game' to decide whether skipper Jade North and goalkeeper Ante Covic will take their place in the squad for Saturday night's Hyundai A-League clash with Sydney FC at EnergyAustralia Stadium.

North and Covic have been in Tashkent as part of the Socceroos' World Cup Qualification match campaign and will return to Australia Friday afternoon, giving the pair less than 24 hours to prepare for the match against Sydney

Although neither player had any game time in the wins over the Netherlands and Uzbekistan, North and Covic will have to deal with jetlag and fatigue before being declared fit to play this weekend. To complicate matters, North has been ill with the same stomach bug that sidelined Jason Culina from Wednesday night's match against Uzbekistan.

"We'll ascertain their state of fitness mentally and physically, and if we feel that it might be too much of a short turn around we'll go with the players here," Jets coach Gary van Egmond said.

"The positive for Jade is the transfer window has closed so he knows where he is going to be, so in that respect it is good. But I did speak to Pim (Verbeek) and he told me that Jade was one of the ones who has been sick in camp. So we will have to see how bad he is from that and the travel and the jet lag."

"We will see how they both are - they should be relatively fresh because they didn't play on Wednesday, but we really need to ascertain their state of physical and mental fitness."

Reserve goalkeeper Ben Kennedy has been training with the Jets all week and van Egmond has plenty of confidence in the 21-year-old to rise to the challenge of the match against Sydney.

"He (Kennedy) has been doing really well at training. He has got along career in front of him and he is learning his trade from Clint (Gosling) and Ante. But at the moment he is here to fill a breach and there is no better time to do it than this weekend against Sydney and at home."

"I have spoken to BK about it and he is very keen and up to the challenge."

In better news for the Jets, dynamic defender/midfielder Adam Griffiths looks like he has recovered from a calf injury and will more than likely return to the starting 11 for this Saturday's match.

Van Egmond said his team had appreciated the extra break after the 5-0 drubbing they suffered at the hands of Melbourne last match and spirits were high for this weekend's fixture.

"It's all well and good to be talking about 'this is what we should have done' or 'this is how mentally I should have approached the game' but it's the response that's really the important part of it," van Egmond said.

"Training has definitely been sharp, the effort has been fantastic but the effort was good before the Melbourne game as well. So it depends how the response is against Sydney FC on Saturday night."

"It was good that we had the two weeks break just to get a few things right but in another way, we also would have liked to play the Wednesday after we played Melbourne, just to right that wrong as quick as possible."

"But we are really looking forward to the game against Sydney and we are under no illusions how tough the game is going to be but we are well and truly up for the challenge."