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Sale of Lee Ki-je could help Jets sign two players

THE sale of Lee Ki-je could allow a flat-lining Newcastle Jets to bolster their ranks with two new players.
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Lee travelled to Korea on Tuesday and, pending a medical, will complete a move to Ulsan Hyundai in the January transfer window.

The 24-year-old has 18 months to run on his Jets contract butexercised a buy-out clause, understood to be $300,000.

Jets chief executive David Eland confirmed that Football Federation , who fund the Jets, would make proceeds from the sale available to the club.

ON THE MOVE: Lee Ki-je in what will probably be his last game for the Jets.

The Jetswill also have about $125,000 –the remainder of Lees’ 2015-16 salary – to spend on reinforcements.

“Yes, we will definitely need to replace Ki-je, and now with access to a potential transfer fee, we will be looking at an additional player to bolster the squad, not only by number but also by quality,” Jets chief executive David Eland said.

“There is no doubt the recent injuries,and injuries to crucial players, havecertainly identified that the squad is very thin.

“In the January transfer period we need a player, and hopefully two players, ready to take the field and be with us for the remainder of the season.”

However, Eland ruled out the addition of a marquee player.

“That is not an option,” he said.“What it doesis potentially openup the ability for us to take up some of those salary concessions[for home-grown players].”

​Jets coach Scott Miller, though disappointed to lose Lee, said the focus was now on recruitment.

“It won’t be a four- to five-month contract so, it has to be the right person,” he said.

“We are going to the next level.”

Miller said they may not opt fora like-for-like replacement at left back and will explore all options.

“I’m looking at it and thinking we could be a bit more creative with it,” he said.

“Utilise the flexibility of Nick Cowburn and Lachlan Jackson [at left back],to look further up the field and get more support for the striker and central midfield area.”

Miller ruled out the possibility of recruiting disgruntled Marinersplayers,threatening to leave the club over unpaid superannuation.

“I’m not here to poach players from other clubs going through negative situations,” he said.

After winning three of the opening four games, the Jetsform has dipped dramatically.

They sit seventh on 12 points ahead of a crucial month in which they play four of six games at home.

“The club has to get some momentum back, there is no doubt about that,” Eland said.

“We will do our best to attract the best players we can.

“The FFAhave certainly reaffirmed their commitment to the Newcastle Jets.They want to do everything they can to help the club reach the finals.”

Lee has been a revelation since joining the Jets in February.

He scored two goals in the finaleight games last seasonbefore inking a two-year extension.

His wife and seven-month-olddaughterrelocated to Newcastle in the pre-season but struggled without a support network.

”Obviously his family didn’t settle here to the degree that he would like,” Miller said.

“We are not going to stand in anybody’s way. Football is important but so is your family life.”

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