How Ernie Merrick would love to have Andrew Nabbout to call on for Sunday’s F3 Derby against the Central Coast Mariners.
Following the end of the domestic season in Japan with the Urawa Reds, Nabbout is back in Newcastle and has been training with the Jets first-team squad this week.
But before Jets fans start getting excited about a potential mid-season signing, the 26-year-old won’t be turning out for the club again - not this campaign anyway.
Nabbout is desperate to keep his fitness levels up ahead of his expected call-up for the Caltex Socceroos for next month’s AFC Asian Cup in the UAE.
“It was ideal for me, and I’m grateful to Ernie and the staff for allowing me to come back and join in for a few sessions,” Nabbout told the Newcastle Jets website.
“They gave me the option to come to Newy, and they didn’t have to ask me twice.
“It does [feel like home], to me and my wife [Sam],” Nabbout added.
“When I told her we can come back to Newcastle, she said, “Yep, book me a flight, I’m coming with you. It’s a really good town, and I automatically feel relaxed here.”
Despite leaving the Jets in March, Nabbout has been keeping a close eye on how his former club has been travelling in the Hyundai A-League this season.
“I watch the game every week. I wish I had a pair of boots on Sunday to jump on,” Nabbout said.
“The boys are doing well, they played really well against Perth and it was unfortunate at times, that that’s the way the game goes. You play really well, but the ball doesn’t go in.
“It just takes one or two games on a roll to really click into gear, and I’m sure Ernie will get the boys doing that.”
So what about a potential return to the Hunter club one day?
“I told Lawrie [Jets CEO Lawrie McKinna] that if I come back to the A-League, it’s his door that I’m going to be knocking on first,” Nabbout said.
“Newcastle is a home to me, they gave me an opportunity to come back and a platform to succeed. I gave Lawrie my word that if the time was right, I was ready to come back, I’d be more than happy to come back here.”