YOUTH coach Clayton Zane says the Jets’ door has not closed on Abe Wheelhouse despite the teenager’s shock decision to walk away from the club.
Wheelhouse, the younger brother of Jets A-League captain Jobe Wheelhouse, has signed to play for promotion winners Lambton Jaffas in the 2013 Northern NSW State League season.
The 18-year-old has been part of the Jets youth squad since June 2011 and played for them in the club’s maiden NNSW state league campaign this year.
Although not officially offered a new deal with the Jets to play in the National Youth League, which starts next month, Wheelhouse made it clear to Zane that he was not interested in staying with the club.
“We had a chat to him at the end of the season, because we could tell just by his body language that he wasn’t as interested in it as he probably should have been,” Zane said.
“So he wasn’t offered anything. We just brought him in at the end just to check on him and see where his head was at and he told us what we already thought was going on. We weren’t surprised by that one.”
He said he had another meeting with Wheelhouse, who reaffirmed his desire to leave the Jets.
Wheelhouse did not return a call from the Herald.
“Abe was adamant that he thought his future was away from the club, not for any particular reason,” Zane said.
“Maybe it was a bit of fatigue and I guess he probably questioned himself a little bit when the first-grade boys came back in and took his spot.
“I think he thought he would play a bit more and I think he realises the jump to the A-League is a big one.
“I said to him, ‘Just make sure you think about it carefully because once you go it’s hard to come back.’
“But then again, we wouldn’t close the door on anyone either. I told Abe to go and play good football because this doesn’t mean he’s finished at the Jets.”
He said back-up keeper Jim Fogarty, who has also signed with Lambton Jaffas, was offered a deal but chose to leave because of work commitments as a personal trainer and his university studies.
He said only six youth league contracted players – Nick Cowburn, Luke Remington, Mason Campbell, Andrew Hoole, Kale Bradbery and Blake Green – from the state league campaign remained for the NYL season.
Josh Small, Dom Bizzari, Dino Fajkovic, Maclean Nadfalusi, Jakob Williams and Alex Kantarovski were released.
The Jets Youth return to training from a four-week break on Monday.
Zane said his NYL squad was not finalised and that a couple of Sydney players would come for trials next week, although the club’s preference was to promote local talent.
He hoped to organise a trial against new club, Western Sydney Wanderers.
The Jets can have 16 players on their roster and plan to have five from the NSW Institute of Sport program as train-on players who can be promoted through the campaign.
NSWIS players Reece Papas and Andrew Pawiak have been training with the squad this year and Zane was also keen to have left-footer Josh Murray in the mix.