NEWCASTLE Jets midfielder Jordan O'Doherty feels "fortunate" to be able to "go work" when other people in the community have lost jobs due to the impact of COVID-19.
As a professional sporting team, the Jets and other A-League clubs have been given an exemption to train in preparation for the upcoming campaign, which is scheduled to start on October 30.
However, the season kick-off appears almost certain to be pushed back until mid November due to the ongoing lockdown in NSW and border restrictions introduced by other states.
The Jets have completely overhauled their roster under new coach Arthur Papas.
O'Doherty, who joined the Jets late last season, is one of only 10 survivors from the 2020-21 campaign and believes the extra time will work in the club's favour.
"We are very fortunate to still be able to do our jobs,"O'Doherty said. "Lots of people aren't able to do that..
"With a new coaching staff coming in, there are plenty of things to learn and a new philosophy to get used to. The extra time does help us.
"We are only going to keep getting fitter. The way we are training, we are going to be one of the fittest teams in the league if not the fittest. The extra time is good for us. In saying that, we want to get into it and are keen to get going."
After arriving from Western Sydney in a swap deal for Steve Ugarkovic, O'Doherty started in midfield in the final four games for the Jets last season.
"I hadn't played a lot of games in the first half of last season. It was good to get a bit of rhythm back," O'Doherty said. "I just need a good pre-season now and hopefully I can establish myself as a player and get lots of games."
Papas has introduced a new playing system and O'Doherty is confident he can handle any role in midfield.
"With the way we are going to play, there is going to be a lot of movement and it will be very dynamic," he said.
"If you look at it on paper, there are two defensive midfielders and an attacker. But it is a rotational midfield It will be very dynamic and each midfielder will be able to move. It is about filling in positions that people leave and things like that.
"I will have an opportunity to play defensive and attacking."
"We are building a good culture here. Everyone is really close and tight knit. It is very important for everyone to be on the same page and together. Not just on the pitch but off the pitch. If you have a tightknit group off the pitch it transfers on to the pitch. We hold a lot of importance on that.
"Everyone who has come in so far has fitted in really well. It is a great bunch of lads."
The Jets have been training for two months but are yet to play a friendly due to COVID restrictions. In other states A-league rivals are playing trial games. Melbourne City beat Western United 2-1 on Saturday.
"At the moment, we are training and leaning, but at the end of the day, you want to play games," O'Doherty said. "We are missing that a little bit. It is good to get what we want out of the games at training.
"We just need to make sure when it does come to us playing games that we will be ready and able to implement the things we have been working on."
In other news:
- A local Bulldogs supporter has come home to an almost five metre tall wooden spoon in his front yard
- Joel Fitzgibbon announces he will quit parliament
- Care packs for struggling residents thanks to Riverside Plaza
- They thought I was dead- how a coffee stop save Steve's life
- Napoleon Dynamite moves down under
Do you know you can subscribe to get full access to all Maitland Mercury stories? Subscribing supports us in our local news coverage. To subscribe, click here.