Having spent most of his four years at Adelaide United as an understudy to Eugene Galekovic, Hunter Ports Newcastle Jets recruit Mark Birghitti says he is ready to become a regular starter in the A-League with the Jets next season.
The Australian under 23’s representative arrived in Newcastle this weekend and joined his teammates for training at Ray Watt Oval this morning.
With Jets incumbent Ben Kennedy having won the Club’s Player of the Year award for his performances in goal last season, Birighitti is aware he will need to perform strongly during pre-season to earn the title of the Club’s first-choice shot-stopper.
“I want to push myself and try to get that number one spot,” Birighitti said.
“To do that I have to work hard and prove myself in training and when I do get an opportunity, do well.
“Ben is a good goalkeeper and he had a great year last year. I’m looking forward to the challenge we’ll have for each other in training.”
Jets goalkeeper coach Bob Catlin said the competition for places is likely to bring out the best in Birighitti and Kennedy.
“That’s why we signed Mark,” he said.
“We want a real contest for that number one position and obviously the one that has the spot needs to be playing well to keep the other one out and that’s a bonus for the Club.”
Catlin said Birighitti’s composure on the ball and ability to play out from the back was already highly compatible with the Jets’ style of play.
“He’s definitely in that mould,” Catlin said.
“He’s teriffic with his feet and has really good depth perception as well, so he fits the mould of exactly what we were looking for.”
Birighitti said the decision to join Newcastle was made easier by the fact he had prior dealings with Jets head coach Gary van Egmond as well as other members of the Jets squad.
“I heard it was a good Club and I’ve got some mates here,” Birighitti said.
“I’ve had Gary at the AIS and he’s a great coach and it made my decision to leave Adelaide a lot easier, knowing that he was here.
“I found it difficult not knowing anyone when I first moved out of Canberra to go to Adelaide to my first professional Club.
“Coming to a Club where you’ve played with players in the national teams does make it a lot easier.”
The 21-year-old links up with the Jets after helping Adelaide United into the quarterfinals of the Asian Champions League.
“It’s been a busy schedule with Adelaide with the Champions League and things like that,” Birighitti explained.
“I’ve had two weeks off and had a bit of time to go home and visit my family. Now it’s just good to get back into training.
“Goalkeeper pre-season compared to outfield player pre-season can be a lot different. We tend to do a lot more of the short, shaper stuff while they have to work a bit more on their cardio and things like that."
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