Young Matildas set for take-off with Jets

RISING TALENT: Sophie Nenadovic, left, and Clare Wheeler are expected to have impact for the Jets' W-League side this year.
RISING TALENT: Sophie Nenadovic, left, and Clare Wheeler are expected to have impact for the Jets' W-League side this year.

They are among the younger ones in the Newcastle Jets W-League squad but coach Craig Deans expects teenagers Clare Wheeler and Sophie Nenadovic to have impact this year.

The pair of 18-year-olds were among nine local players named for the Jets’ W-League campaign this year.

It will be Nenadovic’s fourth season in Newcastle’s W-League squad and Wheeler’s second.

Both are in the Australian under-20 women’s football squad and keen to get some national league game time as they state cases for inclusion in the Young Matildas side for next year’s under-19 women’s Asian championships in China.

And Deans sees no reason why they can’t be pushing for starting positions. 

“Last year I think Clare was in every game-day squad, she was really consistent and is quite versatile,” Deans said. “She can play up front or midfield and last year I played her on the left wing and in the  midfield.

“She’s only young, so to be in every match-day squad at 17 years old is a good achievement in itself. When she came on for us she was effective.

“She’ll be an important player for us and has the potential to start more games.”

He had similar expectations of Nenadovic, who has the chance to push for a fullback position with the departure of experienced defender Georgia Yeoman-Dale to Sydney this season.

“Sophie started games when Georgia was away with the Matildas last season, as fullback and she filled in as a midfielder and a winger,” Deans said. “Technically she is a very good player and understands the game really well, which is good for such a young player. 

“If she works hard and applies herself to training there’s no reason why she can’t start more games.

“Georgia is not coming back so that means there is more of a chance for Sophie to put her hand up to be the starting fullback on the right. But it is up to them, whether they take it or not.”

After signing a strong local contingent, Deans is now waiting for his imports to be finalised but said they are expected in Newcastle by the end of the month.

One player who will not be returning this season is defender Caprice Dydasco from the United States.

Dydasco proved a strong signing for the Jets last season but has been ruled out of this campaign after sustaining a serious knee injury in the final game of the US season.

Newcastle’s W-League campaign begins on the road when the Jets take on Melbourne City in Melbourne on November 6.

Their first home game will be at Hunter Stadium on November 20 and will be one of five double-headers they play with their male counterparts this season.