BIG FUTURE: Jets rookie Harry Sawyer. Picture: Grant SprouleHE has played only 16 minutes in the A-League, but Jets rookie Harry Sawyer has already reached rare heights.
At 195 centimetres (six foot four inches), the 20-year-old striker signed from Brisbane Roar –who debuted off the bench in Sunday’s 2-0 loss to Western Sydney Wanderers at Campbelltown – is close to the tallest player to have pulled on a Newcastlejersey.
Only a centimetre separates Sawyer and teammateLachlan Jackson (196cm).
To put that in context, former Jets defenders Ljubo Milicevic and Nikolai Topor-Stanley stood 193cm and 191cm respectively.
The tallest player in A-League history was former Gold Coast goalkeeperScott Higgins (200cm). The tallest striker was Melbourne City’s former Dutch importGerald Sibon (198cm).
In keeping with his towering frame, Sawyer has createda big impression in a short space of time.
Since arriving in Newcastle a month agoon a short-term contract, he scoreda hat-trick on debut in the youth team’s 4-3 loss to Sydney FC two weeks ago.
That was enough to earn a surprise call-up to the top side, in the absence of strike weapons Andrew Hoole (suspension), Morten Nordstrand (concussion) and Wayne Brown (hip).
Whether Sawyerholds his spot for Friday night’s clash with Melbourne City remains to be seen, given that Hoole, Nordstrand and Brown are all expected to be available.
But Jets coach Mark Jones was impressed with Sawyer’s cameo appearance as replacement for Finnish import Aleksandr Kokko.
“He’s a big lad, put himself about, I thought he was very mobile,’’ Jones said.
“I thought when he came on he was dangerous and gave usa target.’’
Jones said Sawyer was“one I’m interested ingivingmore game time’’ on the strength of his first-up showing.
“He’s just on a youth contract until the end of the year, but we’ll look at that if he continues to perform well,’’ Jones said.
A university student who is studying a dual business-economics/sports science degree, Sawyer admitted it was slightly surreal to have graduated to the A-League so soon after joining the Jets.
“Obviously it wasn’t the result we wanted, but it was good to get out on the park for the first time,’’ he said.
“The boys have been really encouraging and helped me settle in.
“It’s a privilege to come here and make my debut with a team like this.
“But in terms of the result, we have to go back and work hard because, as I’ve seen at training, we’ve got higher standards than that.’’
He said that the A-League was“definitely a step up in intensity” but his teammates helped him cope.
Meanwhile, three of Sawyer’s new teammates–Jackson, Nick Cowburn and Devante Clut–were named on Mondayina 26-man Australian under-23 squad for a three-day training camp on the Central Coast next week.
Thecamp, for A-League-based players, signals the start of preparation for the2018 under-23 Asian Cup, which will stage its qualifiers in July.
The most heavily represented club is Wanderers, who will provide seven players.