Football 3 years ago

Jets goalkeepers issued with mouthguards

  • Jets goalkeepers issued with mouthguards

Newcastle Jets goalkeepers are being fitted for mouthguards in an attempt to prevent the sort of gruesome injuries suffered by Mark Birighitti.

Following Birighitti's controversial goalmouth clash with Sydney FC striker Shane Smeltz, in which four teeth were knocked out of his mouth, the Jets arranged for a dentist to visit the A-League club's training ground this week to take moulds for all senior and youth team goalkeepers.

The mouthguards won't be ready in time for Friday's clash with Melbourne Victory, but Newcastle's goalkeepers will be encouraged to trial them at training and then wear them during games, provided they don't interfere with communication.

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"I think it's something we're going to give a try, and see how it goes," said Jets back-up goalkeeper Ben Kennedy, who will start in Birighitti's place against Victory.

"The dentist has said they're quite different to the big, bulky ones. We'll see how it goes at training and go from there."

Kennedy admitted to being rattled by Birighitti's injuries and said he wished he was returning to the first team under better circumstances.

"It's never nice to see that (happen) to a fellow goalkeeper and someone in your side," he said.

"It might play on your mind a little bit but once you're out on the field, you put that to the back of your mind and get on with it."

Birighitti, who needed 40 stitches to repair the damage caused by Smeltz's boot, made a brave attempt to prove his fitness for the Victory clash but was never considered a realistic chance of playing.

As a result, Kennedy has been handed a golden chance to establish himself as Newcastle's first-choice shotstopper, having made 21 starts last season, most of those coming while Birighitti was on loan to Italian club Varese.

"It was a bit of a long shot for Birraz to be ready. I think he tried everything but didn't quite come up," Kennedy said.

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