COACH Daniel McBreen admits the Jets youth team will be stepping "into the unknown" when they open their NSW NPL 4 campaign against Prospect United at Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility on Sunday night.
The Jets have been competing in the NNSW NPL for the past seven years but were not eligible for the finals.
In Sydney, they have to finish first or win a play-off to earn promotion to the higher division. Sydney FC play in NPL 1 while, Western Sydney Wanderers and Central Coast Mariners are in NPL 2.
"A lot of people questioned us going into NPL 4, but I like it," McBreen said. "It teaches the players that they have to win to earn promotion. In terms of the standard and who the teams are to beat, it is an unknown quantity. If there are a couple of teams in NPL 4 who want to throw some money at players in a bid to go up, it could be difficult. Teams like Parramatta Melita and Fraser Park have traditionally been strong.
"From our end, we are expecting to win. It will be a good challenge for the boys. The physicality, the game management ... all those kind of things."
Pat Langlois, 20, is the only senior contracted player in the squad, which includes scholarship-holders Jack Simmons, Makis Petratos and Noah James, who is recovering from hand surgery.
The bulk of the squad has been carried over from the National Youth League season.
"It is an all-age competition, but we are only permitted three players over 20," McBreen said.
"We have registered Patty Langlois and Kieran Hayes, the rest are aged 16 to 18. Pat Bond and Adam Zarcas are both 16. We wanted to go with a younger group so we can build and develop them.
"We will be quite strong along the spine. Tom Beecham is at centreback. Pat Langlois, Jack Simmons, Adam Zervis, Ryan Goodhew and Bailey Wells are competing in midfield. Up front there is Lucas Mauragis, who has come up from Canberra, Sam Donnellan, Nick Martinelli and Makis Petratos."
The Jets under-17s and 19s will fill the reserves and under-18s slots in NPL 4.
The Jets academy (under-13 to 16s) have also switched to the Sydney competition and are in NPL2.
Those teams had been playing up an age group in the NNSW NPL to provide greater competition but they will now take on their own age in the Sydney leagues.