Former England international Emile Heskey may be available for the Newcastle Jets after all when they meet Brisbane Roar on Saturday, having made good progress from a hip injury
|By MARK HUGHES
Newcastle Jets marquee Emile Heskey is recovering quickly and may be fit for Saturday's clash with the Brisbane Roar.
Heskey came off injured with a hip flexor strain mid-way through last Saturday's 0-0 draw with Adelaide United and was expected to be sidelined for this Saturday's A-League match against the Roar.
But the former England international has been working hard on his rehabilitation and, although he has not trained with the Jets group this week, he has shown that he might be fit enough to play by Saturday.
"We have just been doing some cross-training for him [Heskey] and we will know more tomorrow," Jets coach Gary van Egmond said at team training on Thursday.
"Emile is very keen to be a part of it and we are pretty confident he will be for this weekend."
In other injury concerns, Ruben Zadkovich looks likely to make a recovery from a knee strain suffered training to take his place in the midfield, while van Egmond confirmed club captain Jobe Wheelhouse will definitely make his return to the squad this weekend after spending six weeks on the sidelines with a his own knee injury.
"He [Zadkovich] trained with the group today so from the initial fear of what it was to where it is we are really happy," the Jets coach said.
"He has got through training today with the group and he has pulled up OK."
"Jobe is fine but more the case for him is that he needs games," van Egmond said.
"He has been training with the group for a week and he probably needs a little bit more match time.
"We will look to balance that between first team and the youth game this weekend to give him more fitness.
"But 100 per cent he will come off the bench because he could sustain a good half hour maybe even 45 minutes and he will probably be more effective with some pace of the game gone as well."
If Zadkovich is unable to play and with Wheelhouse likely to only make a second half appearance, van Egmond said the responsibility for taking on the key defensive midfielder role would fall to youngster Josh Brillante.
"We are down on the experienced boys to do that but it gives the opportunity to someone like Josh Brilliante to step up and take on the role," van Egmond said.
"He definitively has the physical capabilities, he is getting more experience and he has the potential to be that type of player so will probably get fast-tracked if Ruben is not there.
"But even with Ruben be there or not he [Brillante] still needs to show leadership in that position. That is not only by the way of communication but by his actions and I think he is getting better at it."