Soccer: All Whites midfielder out to kick on at Jets

By admin • 成都桑拿 • 18 Jul 2019

HIGH HOPES: Former Wellington Phoenix midfielder Matthew Ridenton is motivated at the challenge of trying to break into the Newcastle Jets starting side. Picture: Marina Neil

THE easy option for Matthew Ridenton would have been to stay at the Wellington Phoenix.

The 22-year-old midfielder had cemented a place in the Phoenix midfield, starting in 24 of 26 appearances last season, and was in a familiar environment surrounded by New Zealand All Whites teammates.

Instead he opted to take a risk and signed a two-year deal with the Jets.

“Ihad been in Wellington five years,” Ridenton said. “I had grown a lot there but I thought, to take that next step, I might need a change in environment.Coming to , I am still pretty familiar with the league, but just a new environment and being around different players might have helped me.When the opportunity came up at the Jets, with the year they had last year, that was a real positive for me to come over and be a part of it.”

Ridenton, whose partner also made the trip across the ditch, is three months into life atthe Jets.

The fact that Ernie Merrick, the man responsible for luring the utility to the Phoenix at age 17, is calling the shots has aided the transition.

“Obviously we have hada busy preseason and you get to bond quickly going on trips overseas,” he said.“Ernie signed me at Wellington.Now to be back with him makes the move a lot easier.I know what style of coach he is, the training sessions and the way he wants to play.The other reason was I knew he wasa coach who wasgoing to challenge me. I was never going to come here and walk into the team, it was going to be a big challenge.”

Ridenton has covered every role in midfield during the preseason.

“Playing as a six or eight are my preferred positions, that’s where I feel the most comfortable,” he said. “Even this preseason I have played No.10 when Ronny (Vargas) and Dimi (Petratos) were away at the start.I’ve played left wing as well. Everyone in the midfield and up front in this team is very flexible.”

In the most recent outing against Sydney FC, Ridenton replaced Ben Kantarovski (calf) alongside Steve Ugarkovic in front of the back four.

“They (Kantarovski and Ugarkovic) were a really good partnership last year,” Ridenton said. “I’m learning a lot from them. It is a hard thing to do; coming into a team that made the grand final. My job is to push these players every day at training.”

Before startingwith the Jets, Ridenton was in the All Whites squad under new coach Fritz Schmid which contested the Intercontinental Cup in India, taking his number of caps to five.

The All Whites are expected to assemble during the FIFA international in November for a game against Asian opposition.

“Any time a national team is picked I want to be involved,” Ridenton said. “Over the last World Cup cycle I was in and out of the squad. I had a few injuries and didn’t really cement a spot. Now I am pushing really hard for it.”

Next for Ridenton and the Jets is a hit out against Northern NSW premiers Edgeworth at Jack McLaughlan Oval on Saturday.

“Edgeworth have had a really good season and will be good opposition for us,” he said.

“It’s another chance to get fitness and sharpness.Continue our development in the way Ernie wants to play. It’s another chance to try and put what we have been doing at training into a competitive game.”

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