‘I’m sick of the beach, I want to play’: Hoolahan’s joy at long-awaited Jets debut
Wes Hoolahan admits he’s relieved to have got through his Hyundai A-League debut unscathed after finally getting on the pitch for the Newcastle Jets in the draw with Melbourne Victory.
The Republic of Ireland international was one of the Jets’ marquee pre-season signings but has been sidelined since September after suffering a serious ankle injury in the FFA Cup Quarter Final loss to Adelaide United.
But Hoolahan finally returned to action on Saturday night, playing the last 30 minutes in the 1-1 stalemate against Victory at McDonald Jones Stadium.
“Coming on for half an hour and coming off unscathed, I’m happy to get the minutes but we were hoping to get the win,” Hoolahan told Fox Sports after the match.
It’s been very frustrating. I came over here to play some football and to get injured two weeks before the season started was disappointing.
“But I got my head down, I was hoping to get back and play the last 10 games which I’m doing. I’m getting the sick of the beach now, I just want to play some football.”
And the Jets will be hoping Hoolahan can play plenty of football in coming weeks given his impact in his short cameo.
While the home side dominated the first-half – and led 1-0 at the break thanks to Roy O’Donovan’s goal – the start of the second-half belonged to Victory.
Ola Toivonen got the visitors level just after the break as Victory took control, but the introduction of 37-year-old Hoolahan gave the Jets a boost.
“We played really well first half, second half I think Victory changed their shape and we struggled to deal with it,” Hoolahan said.
“We didn’t create as many chances in the second half as we did in the first.
Hoolahan added: “The gaffer coming in has worked a lot on our shape and our detail, he’s very hands-on and all week we’ve been working on three at the back and finding pockets of space.
“The boys have got into the momentum that he wants them to play and it’s great to see because I thought the first half we were excellent.”
Hoolahan’s return wasn’t the only boost for the Jets, with O’Donovan getting his first goal since returning to the club last month.
O’Donovan’s tireless display typified the Jets’ resurgence in recent weeks, with the Hunter club now unbeaten in their last four games.
“It was a brilliant [game], full of energy. I think the manager has brought a bit of that with him, the boys are buzzing around the place,” O’Donovan said.
“We’re frustrated with the goal [we conceded], I thought we were the dominant team but frustration is a good thing.
“I think we’re moving on up and the lads were fantastic. We’re doing great, we just need to keep it going, more wins and push for the six.”
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Newcastle Jets v Perth Glory
Saturday, 29 February
McDonald Jones Stadium
Kick-off: 5pm AEDT
Melbourne Victory v Adelaide United
Saturday, 29 February
Kick-off: 7.30pm AEDT