Defender signs new deal with Brisbane Roar
FOOTBALL: The emergence of fresh Brisbane Roar talent has been complemented by the three-time A-League champions retaining the services of veteran defender Jade North for another season.
North, 35, has been rewarded for a fine season by earning a contract extension that will keep him at the Roar at least until the end of the 2017-18 season.
The former Socceroo's retention comes as a host of the club's younger players take advantage of a growing injury list and the opportunities that present themselves with the Roar juggling A-League and AFC Champions League commitments.
The likes of teenagers Joe Caletti, Dane Ingham and Nick D'Agostino, and 20-year-old defender Cameron Crestani have stepped up in tough times, with all playing a part in the Roar's 2-2 weekend draw with the Glory in Perth.
Winger turned fullback Ingham, 17, scored in just his second A-League appearance, while 18-year-old Caletti and Crestani made their A-League debuts in the match.
"It's exciting times for the club," said North, who has made 99 A-League appearances for the Roar since joining the club in January 2013.
"The younger boys did really well in Perth and it shows the character we've got in this team.
"For me, I've been really happy with the last couple of seasons and I want to continue on with that for the rest of this season and now next season as well."
Despite his optimism, North admits the Roar will have to dig deep in their bid for A-League and Champions League success with the squad being stretched to its limits.
Midfield enforcer Thomas Kristensen, who was a late withdrawal in Perth after hurting his hamstring in the warm-up, is extremely doubtful for Tuesday's Champions League clash against Thai champions Muangthong United at Suncorp Stadium.
Skipper Matt McKay, who played all but two minutes against the Glory with a broken nose on top of a virus he took into the contest, will be monitored closely before a decision is made on his fitness.
Attackers Jamie Maclaren and Tommy Oar, and defender Luke DeVere, who all failed to last the 90 minutes because of niggles, cramps and fatigue, are expected to recover in time for Tuesday night.
But there is no doubt that Brisbane's recent heavy playing and travel schedule it taking its toll, particularly when the injuries of defenders Daniel Bowles (knee, season), Corey Brown (hamstring) and Jack Hingert (ankle) are taken into account.
"It's going to be a tough ask for us," North said.
"We've just got to manage it as best as we can. We've got to get on with the job now."