OFF THE BENCH: The Jets’ Mitch Cooper holds Perth Glory’s Sidnei Sciola at bay in Perth last month.
OFF THE BENCH: The Jets’ Mitch Cooper holds Perth Glory’s Sidnei Sciola at bay in Perth last month. Getty Images

Cooper aims to repay the Jets

OFF-contract at the end of the year, Newcastle Jets midfielder Mitch Cooper says he must get more time on the field or face the prospect of being unsigned next season.

The 20-year-old former Maroochydore player returned to the pitch last November after a shocking run of injuries.

He ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee a year ago after suffering the same injury to his right knee just nine months earlier, resulting in almost two years on the sidelines.

Having returned to the A-League last month, Cooper has played in the Jets' past four matches from the bench.

"The body has been really well lately and I have been getting a lot more game time back under my belt," he said.

"I feel sharp and I feel comfortable at the level, but I need more game time so I can make more of an impact."

Cooper spent most of the past two years getting over his injuries, giving him little opportunity to show the talent that gained him selection in the Australia Under-17 World Cup team in 2011.

He remains the youngest captain of an A-League team, having skippered the now defunct Gold Coast United at 17.

All that aside, Cooper knows the importance of reminding Newcastle of his skills to ensure he remains with the club beyond this season.

"That is the other thing that has come into it now that I am off-contract ... every time I am on the pitch I know I have to work hard and show myself and Newcastle that I am ready and that I can play at this level," he said.

Cooper said he was desperate to pay back the club for the support it had shown in helping him return from two devastating injuries.

"They have been there for me this whole time," he said.

"I AM very grateful for that so I would love to repay them."

Newcastle has had a forgettable year both on and off the park. The side has won only one game this season and lost 14 to sit second-last on the ladder.

The Jets' woes culminated this week when chief executive Robbie Middleby and chairman Ray Baartz resigned.

"I don't think that will affect us," Cooper said.

"A lot of things have changed, but we just have to keep it to what is going on the field and what we can control. We just have to put our heads down and work hard."



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