Newcastle Jets co-captain Clare Wheeler is set to head south in 2020/21, after inking a W-League deal with competition heavyweights Sydney FC during the offseason. She will be joined by Cortnee Vine, who pulls on the sky blue via a stint with Western Sydney.
Wheeler’s Sydney defection comes after five years with her home club. The star, described by former helmsman Craig Deans as the team’s “midfield general,” played 67 matches for the Jets. She was one of the squad’s co-captains last year.
The Novocastrian star, 22, was also twice crowned the club’s player of the year in 2017-18 and 2018-19. She is currently playing for Sydney University in the National Premier League NSW Women’s, where she won the regional league in 2019.
Sydney’s acquisition of Wheeler and Vine — who made 21 appearances for the Jets from 2017 to 2019 — came amid a huge spending spree for the cashed-up metro club.
The 2019/20 runners-up also poached Western Sydney stars Jada Mathyssen-Whyman and international forward Rachel Lowe. Club captain Teresa Polias was also handed a huge record-breaking deal to extend her ten-year tenure with the team.
Sydney finished third in the W-League regular season last time around, before falling 1–0 to heavy favourites Melbourne City in a closed-door decider in March. Newy’s Matildas star Emily van Egmond played opposite the Sky Blue in the final.
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Coach Ante Juric said he wanted to inject a “youthful element” to his side heading into the new season, in preparation for a changing of the guard. Wheeler and Vine both certainly fit that bill, and could be handed long-term deals in the future.
“Personally, I have always wanted to showcase the best of our Australian talent in the W-League and give up and coming talent a chance to shine with an opportunity to debut and play in the league,” the Sydney boss told media.
“It is a youthful team and at this stage an Australian based squad, which is exciting for me, and exciting for the players. We always set ourselves high standards and have high expectations as a team and this season will be no different.”
The Newcastle Jets have not yet announced potential replacements for their outgoing star midfielder. The club is expected to begin making 2020/21 signings soon.