Newcastle Jets coach Gary van Egmond has confirmed marquee signing Emile Heskey will play in their A-League opener against Adelaide on Sunday.
Heskey only touched down in Australia last Friday but has already impressed at several Jets training sessions in the past week showing he is fit and in good touch.
The 34-year-old played at the point of the attack in a 4-2-3-1 formation at training this week and despite looking as if he is still coming to terms with the spring heat, van Egmond was confident the former England international will make an impact this Sunday.
“Emile will be involved on the weekend for sure. He got through training on Tuesday and Wednesday fine,” van Egmond said at the team announcement on Thursday morning.
“Emile will lead the line and be a real presence at the point of the attack – he is a great asset.”
Heskey has shown his professionalism by throwing himself into training at his new club from the outset, confirming he is determined to give his best in his stint in Australia.
“Emile is a competitor, he’s a winner. You can see in the training sessions he won’t let things beat him,” van Egmond said.
Jets skipper Jobe Wheelhouse echoed the coach’s sentiments.
“He has settled in quite well and he’s a great addition to our squad,” Wheelhouse said.
“You only have to look at the last couple of days. He looks sharp with his quality on the ball, he is a real target man and that gives us a different angle to our game, and hopefully he can get on the end of a few crosses as well.”
In other team news, it looks as if the Jets will have a new look defensive line with new signings Craig Goodwin, Scott Neville, Dominik Ritter and Josh Mitchell at the back with Mark Birighitti firming as favourite to start in goals.
“I’m pretty close to sorting my starting XI. There’s a couple of positions we’re still looking at but we’ll decide that on Saturday,” van Egmond said.
“Both our goal-keepers are doing really well. We’ve got the next couple of days to finalise the squad. They are pushing each other hard.”