Kennedy keeps faith with struggling Jets

Goalkeeper Ben Kennedy is one player who isn't headed for the exit at Newcastle Jets, inking a two-year contract extension with his hometown club.  

Locally born and bred Kennedy will remain a Jet until the end of the 2016/17 A-League campaign.

Out of favour goalkeeper Mark Birighitti is looking overseas to Europe, while the Jets have also lost playmaker Marcos Flores and a raft of other players and club executives.

But coach Phil Stubbins believes the Jets' goalkeeping stocks are in good hands with Kennedy’s best between the sticks still in front of him. 

“Ben turns 28 next month so he is coming into his prime as a ‘keeper,” Stubbins said.

“We are pleased to have secured Ben’s services for what we believe will be the best years of his career."

Stubbins added: “Ben is of course an excellent goalkeeper, so we are thrilled that he has opted to renew his contract with the club.But beyond his ability on the football pitch, Ben possesses a great character and a fantastic attitude, so he is the type of player I want to take forward with this club.

“Ben always trains and prepares in the right way and represents the club with pride."

Kennedy, originally from Thornton on the outskirts of Newcastle, will have amassed more than a decade of service for the club by the time the current deal ends.

The Jets are currently languishing second from the bottom and eight points off finals football.

But recent player exits have left the club with plenty of room to move in the transfer window.

"Sam Gallaway has left, Marcos has left, there’s a spot from Jonny Steele,’’ Stubbins told the Newcastle Herald.

‘‘What we can do with the salary cap and play around with it, we’re looking through the market.’’

Kennedy, for one, is happy to stay put.

Last year the Jets squad and some of the staff banded together behind the goalkeeper and his family by shaving their heads for the #PinkDayForBK initiative in support of Kennedy's mother, Karen, raising more than $11,000 for the Hunter Breast Cancer Foundation,. 

“The Jets are my hometown club and our members and fans have been fantastic in supporting me and my family,” Kennedy said.

“I am delighted to extend my contract and to have the faith of the coaching staff at Newcastle.

“There is always strong competition for the goalkeeper position, so I am pleased that I have played in the last few matches.

"Now I am looking forward to the second half of the season and building on our recent clean sheet (against Sydney FC).

The Jets will next be in action on Saturday January 24 when they take on Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium.