FULL OF RUNNING: Valentine’s Matt Paul competes for the ball with Jets Youth midfielder Jackson Frendo last week at Cahill Oval. Paul scored the only goal of the game. Picture: Marina Neil Valentine face a test of their progress at home against Hamilton Olympic on Saturday, and they will have to do it without key midfielder Matt Paul.
The dynamic Paul scored the winner in last week’s 1-0 win over the Jets youth team, but he is competing in the Port Macquarie Ironman on Sunday, the day after his 26th birthday.
Coach Darren Sills, who recruited Paul from Adamstown midway through last season, said the midfielder would be a significant loss for his second-placed team.
“We’ve given him the weekend off. It means a lot to him to do these ironmans and triathlons. That was part of the deal. We knew early days he was going to do this,” Sills said.“He’s been super. He runs out a full 90 minutes, he’s incredibly fit and a very, very good footballer.”
Sills said he would move defender Alec Faulkner into midfieldand fellow American Jalon Brown wouldreturn from injury to start up front. Wilson Edwards will return at right back.
Valentine are chasing a fourth straight win, but Sills expected a tough outing against Olympic, who are two points back in third.
“It’s probably a good test of where we are. I watched Olympic a few weeks ago against Maitland, and they were pretty awesome. They could have been four or five up at half-time.
“We’re playing Edgeworth the following week. If we’re going to be any yardstick, we’ll see how we go against those two teams.”
Rhys Cooper (knee) and captain Kyle Hodges (toe) are still out for Olympic.
Elsewhere, eighth-placed Broadmeadow host Maitland at Magic Park on Sunday looking for their first win in five weeks after two losses, two draws and the bye.
Weston go looking for their first win when they host defending champions Edgeworth, who are slowly finding form and have seven points from their past three games.Eagles striker Daniel McBreen’s suspension is over, but he will miss them match due to Fox Sports commitments at the A-League grand final.
Also on Sunday, Charlestown host winless but improving Adamstownat Lisle Carr Oval, and Lake Macquarie entertain the bottom-placed Jets.