Kennedy keen to stay Jets' No 1

Ben Kennedy is back in the number one jumper for the Newcastle Jets after a long absence and is keen to stay in the position.

Kennedy was selected in goal for the Jets home clash with Wellington Phoenix last weekend after Mark Birighitti made a string of errors in the F3 derby loss to the Mariners.

The Jets demolished the Kiwi club, ending their finals hopes, and giving the 27-year-old  goalkeeper another opportunity to start against Perth on Sunday.

“It was good after being out for the 18 months or so I haven’t played in the first team - and even better to keep a clean sheet and get a 5-0 win," Kennedy said.

“The boys in front of me played pretty well. I didn’t really have a great deal to do but I felt what I did I did pretty comfortably.

“A lot of the credit for the clean sheet goes to the boys in front of me, not just the defenders but the whole team. We all work hard collectively and shut that down pretty well.”

Kennedy, who joined the Jets in 2006 and has made 87 appearances for the club, admits it was tough biding his time on the sidelines.

“Yeah it’s always hard,” he said.

“I had a few injuries in there as well which makes it hard but at the same time Birras was always playing pretty well so I just had to stay as fit as I could and wait for my chance.

“Fortunately now that I have my opportunity I plan to take it with both hands and hopefully see the rest of the year out.”

The Jets travel to Perth knowing a slip-up in Western Australia could cost them a place in the top-six. Newcastle currently sits in sixth place, on equal points with Sydney FC but with a superior goal difference

Glory haven’t won a match in over two months but the last time the Jets took all three points in Perth was during the first season of the A-League.

“It’s always tough going over there,” Kennedy said.

“The only victory I can remember there was in the first season. It’s a bit of a challenge for us but we’re going over in a confident mood after last week’s performance. We feel we can get a result over there.”

Newcastle have won three of their last four matches with home games against Victory and Adelaide, as well as the trip to Perth, all that's left of the regular season.

“Everyone’s pretty focused on getting the Jets back into the finals,” Kennedy said.

“We haven’t been in the finals for quite a few years so all the boys are pretty switched on. I think that showed on the weekend. I think it was one of our best performances of the year.

“Obviously it’s going to be tough, we’ve got some tough games coming up, but all the boys are looking forward to them and looking forward to the challenge.”

Former Jets coach Gary van Egmond was sacked in January and youth team coach Clayton Zane was installed as his replacement in an interim capacity.

Kennedy added: “He’s had some different ideas to what Gary’s had in the past so it’s taken the guys maybe a little bit to get used to, but I feel the boys are pretty switched on to what we want to do and we’re starting to show that now.

“There’s no better time to show how far we’ve come along, and how much we understand what Clayton wants us to do, than now. If we go over to Perth and put in a good performance then that keeps us in good stead for the finals.”

Club legend Joel Griffiths and Socceroo David Carney joined the Jets in January and February respectively, and have formed part of the new frontline.

“Carns and Griffiths are both quality players,” Kennedy said.

“They’ve come in and fitted straight in. Those boys have all the experience in the world which is what we’re going to need in the next few weeks. I think you’ll probably see the best football out of them in the coming weeks.”

Meanwhile Birighitti, who flew out for Germany last weekend to meet key representatives of Bundesliga giants Bayer Leverkusen, is expected to link up with his teammates ahead of the Perth clash.