Nigel Boogaard says not being able to contribute on the pitch this season for the embattled Newcastle Jets has been the toughest period of his career.
The Jets skipper has played just three matches in 2019/20 and has watched his struggle for results as they sit on the foot of the Hyundai A-League ladder.
The Hunter club’s plight saw coach Ernie Merrick lose his job on Monday following a run of four defeats in their last five matches.
Boogaard hasn’t featured since Round 4 due to a groin injury and remains sidelined for Friday night’s clash with Sydney FC at McDonald Jones Stadium.
"This is probably the hardest thing I've had to deal with, in terms of not being able to contribute on the park," the 33-year-old centre-back said.
"Not only on the pitch in games but at training as well.
“For me, my role and responsibility is to help out there in any way I can and I feel I could have done a bit more had I been out there."
Off-contract at the end of this season, Boogaard’s playing future remains up in the air heading into the second half of this campaign.
While content to wait to sort out his future, Boogaard is intent on playing on next season.
"I still think I've got a lot to offer," he said.
"Whether I can get back to on the park and play to that level that I know I can and contribute to that same level, I believe I can.
"Until I'm tapped on the shoulder, otherwise, by a new coach or members of staff [and told] that I'm not needed any more, then so be it.
"But for me, I still think I've got a lot to contribute."
Boogaard says the players feel ‘partly responsible’ for Merrick’s demise but was realistic that "nine times out of 10" the coach is held accountable when results are bad.
But the former Adelaide United and Central Coast Mariners defender denied claims Merrick had ‘lost the dressing room’.
"If they came and watched training every day, they'd probably see something different," Boogaard said.
"Everyone's entitled to their opinion but he [Merrick] definitely didn't lose the group. People may say that during games, when we conceded goals, the lack of effort or trying wasn't there.
"That wasn't true. You've got a team that was conceding goals and unfortunately we were down on confidence.
"It's disappointing when you hear people say that the boys' effort isn't there and they're not trying, things like that, because as a professional footballer that's questioning your professionalism and that's why we do this job.
"People are entitled to their opinions but if they came and saw the boys' effort every day at training, their mindset leading into games, and their output in terms of numbers, what they put into a game, it's very different."
Friday, 10 January 2020
Kick-off: 7.30pm AEDT
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium
Broadcast: FOX Sports 505
Stream: MyFootball Live App, Kayo Sports