LUCKLESS Jets midfielder James Brown aims to be fit and firing for the start of the A-League season after surgery yesterday to remove bone spurs from his troublesome right ankle.
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In his second year at the Jets, the 23-year-old faces another pre-season interrupted by injury.

He will spend a fortnight in a CAM Boot and if all goes to plan should be back in full training in early September.

That will leave the playmaker a month to force his way into the Jets starting line-up for the season opener against Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium on October 11.

“The ankle is not 100 per cent and after consultation with the medical staff we decided that it would be best to go in for a clean-up now,” coach Gary van Egmond said.

“He should be able to do some light running in two to four weeks and be back in full training about six weeks out from the start of the season.

“Time is on our side at the moment, and we just want to make sure he gets it right.”

Brown had a similar procedure on the same ankle in September.

He was one of the Jets’ major off-season buys last year, but the injury delayed his A-League debut for the club until round five.

Although going on to make 16 appearances, Brown struggled to recapture confidence and was a shadow of the player who set the A-League alight for the Gold Coast.

Apart from Brown’s setback, the Jets have had a relatively smooth off-season.

Defender Josh Mitchell and goalkeeper Ben Kennedy are back running after knee surgery late last season and are expected to return to the main group in the next fortnight.

Captain Ruben Zadkovich has tight hamstrings and will sit out tonight’s opening trial against Plattsburg-Maryland as a precaution.

The match at Ulinga Oval is part of the Jets’ efforts to build broader community ties and coincides with the launch of their 2013-14 membership program.

The Jets, with just over 11,000, boasted the second largest A-League membership, behind Melbourne Victory last season.

Chief executive Robbie Middleby hopes to at least match that figure but acknowledged the Jets’ failure to make the finals for a third straight season could affect numbers.

“It is difficult to predict,” he said. “We would like the same amount of members or more, but we understand last season, not to make the top six, was disappointing for the fans.

“This season everyone knows Emile Heskey will be here, the young players are a year older and we’re very keen to make amends and feature in the finals.”

The Jets have an extra home game this season, which has resulted in a slight rise in membership fees.

Junior members start at $60 and family passes open at $255.

JAMES BROWN

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