Injury opens A-League door for Birighitti
Goalkeeper Mark Birighitti could get a chance to atone for his nightmare Newcastle Jets debut with the A-League side's first-choice gloveman Ben Kennedy facing the prospect of knee surgery.
Off-season recruit Birighitti had an afternoon to forget in his first match since signing from Adelaide as he was sent off in the Jets' 2-0 loss to his former club two weeks ago.
Kennedy was restored to the starting team in last week's 3-2 win over Sydney FC but continues to be plagued by a knee injury that troubled him in pre-season.
Jets' coach Gary Van Egmond said on Wednesday Kennedy had undergone scans for a suspected meniscus tear and could opt for surgery, which would force him out for four to six weeks.
That would pave the way for Birighitti to be recalled for Saturday's F3 derby against Central Coast and Van Egmond was confident the 21-year-old would bounce back strongly if he was required.
"I felt sorry for him," Van Egmond said of Birighitti, who earned a one-match suspension after he was shown a red card for handling the ball outside the box.
"He had an indifferent game, he was playing against his old club as well and it didn't go to plan.
"I'm sure he's keen to make that wrong a right.
"He might get his opportunity this week depending on Ben Kennedy."
Van Egmond has another minor injury concern over defender Scott Neville (groin) for Saturday's match at Hunter Stadium but has Josh Brillante, Connor Chapman and Adam Taggart back from Young Socceroos duty.
The Jets are hoping for another big performance from star import Emile Heskey after the Englishman scored his first A-League goal in the win over Sydney.
Van Egmond tipped Heskey would only improve with every appearance.
"It was great for him to get on the scoreboard and he's only been in the country for two to three weeks," Van Egmond said.
"The more time he gets to spend with the team, I think you're going to see the best of him in the next few weeks."