Merrick praises 'natural goal-scorer' Sheppard after Jets striker signs contract extension

Ernie Merrick says Kaine Sheppard has the potential to be a long-term player for the Newcastle Jets after signing a one-year contract extension today.

Sheppard joined the Jets from NPL Victoria outfit Avondale in September and has since scored two goals and two assists in 10 appearances for the club.

The 25-year-old will now remain on board with the Novocastrians until 2019/20, but Merrick hinted at a longer stay for the talented Englishman.

“Kaine is a natural goal-scorer, he’s really impressed me since he’s arrived and this new contract will give him the confidence to continue improving and developing as an A-League player,” Merrick told the official Newcastle Jets website.

“We did our due diligence before signing him from the NPL, and he hasn’t let us down this season.

“He’s definitely something of a long-term player for us, and we’re keen to see what he can do not only for the rest of this season, but next season and potentially beyond.”

A former youth product of Leyton Orient, Sheppard has racked up an impressive goal tally since his arrival in Australia in 2014.

He has scored at a prolific rate for NPL Victoria outfits Heidelberg United and Avondale, and says he's already feeling the benefits of full-time training and coaching under Merrick's guidance.

“Newcastle is a fantastic city, it’s a great club and group of lads, and I’m happy to have secured my future here,” Sheppard told the club's website.

“To have a couple of goals under my belt already is a good feeling, and I’m looking forward to hopefully grabbing a few more before the season is out.

“My football is improving everyday here at the Jets, I feel like I’m really suited to the attacking football Ernie likes us to play.

“I’m already seeing the benefits of full-time training and specialist coaching, and I’m excited about continuing my development with the Jets.”