Carney contract wrangle a quandary for Jets

TOUCH OF CLASS: David Carney controls the ball during Newcastle’s training session at Ray Watt Oval on Wednesday. Picture: Jonathan CarrollTHE interest in David Carney, both from within the A-League and overseas, shapes as the first serious test of Newcastle’s recently formulated retention strategy.

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The Jets have a host of players coming out of contract, headed by former SoccerooCarney, Ben Kantarovski, Mark Birighitti, Jason Hoffman, Enver Alivodic, Milos Trifunovic, Leonardo, Cameron Watson,Ryan Kitto and Braedyn Crowley.

But the powers-that-be have made it obvious they will not be pressured into re-signing anyone until the club is good and ready.

Their logic is quite straightforward. Newcastle officials are confident that any players who are approached by rival clubs will offer the Jets right of reply.If they don’t, and instead opt to take the money and run,then perhaps the club is better off without them anyway.

Jets coach Scott Miller wants players who are committed. He has instilled a culture and environment that is far removed from last season, when home-grown players Andrew Hoole and Jacob Pepper insisted on leaving, largely because they felt Newcastle’s immediate future was bleak.

Twelve months on, Jets officials believe they are in a stronger bargaining position and that the majority of their off-contract players will be keen to stay.

So they are happy to bide their time and assess performances. Recently they signed rookies Lachlan Jackson and Nick Cowburn to extended deals, but others remain under the microscope and will need to state an irresistible case for new deals.

As policies go, it is something of a gamble, but Jets management are backing themselves in.

All of which brings us to Carney, who has been Newcastle’s most creative player this season.

Carney would not have survived 14 years as a professional, and played for 13 clubs around the world, without learning a few tricks of the trade along the way.

With uncanny timing, after his starring role in Newcastle’s 3-1 win against Wellington on Sunday, he confirmed he had received an expression of interest from a club in Qatar. His agent has indicated Sydney are keen to sign the former Socceroo during the January transfer window.

At 32, Carney’s desire to secure his future is understandable.

By the same token, why should Newcastle release him to Sydney, knowing that they would receive no transfer fee in return?

At the very least, it would seem fair for Jets officials to inform Carney of where he stands. If they are unsure about re-signing him, let him know so that he can explore other options.

Newcastle fans will be hoping he stays, because even atthe tailend of his career he possesses a touch of class that few A-League players can match.