Could the gloom be about to lift around Hyundai A-League strugglers Newcastle Jets?
It’s been a tumultuous campaign for the Hunter club so far, sitting last with just two wins from 13 games and parting ways with coach Ernie Merrick.
But there could be some light at the end of the tunnel with star recruit Wes Hoolahan returning to full training with the squad on Tuesday.
The Republic of Ireland international midfielder has yet to play in the Hyundai A-League after suffering a serious ankle injury in the FFA Cup in September.
Seen as a key piece of the puzzle in making the Jets a force in 2019/20, his absence his been felt with the side struggling for penetration in attack.
But the 37-year-old is edging closer to finally getting back on the pitch.
"Wes came back into the session for the first time all season, which is a bonus," Interim boss Craig Deans revealed.
"He's obviously still a couple of weeks away (from playing) but just having him in the session and his quality as a footballer and his contribution to the session is more than just football."
Skipper Nigel Boogaard is another experience player the Jets have missed for the majority of the campaign, with the central defender sidelined since Round 4.
But Boogaard is set to return from his adductor injury in Friday’s clash with the Phoenix in Wellington.
"Nigel was back the whole week last week and could have been involved on Saturday if we wanted to push it, but decided it wasn't worth the risk at that point," Deans said.
"He'll do the whole week this week and put his hand up for selection.
"There's a good chance he'll come back in."
Deans has overseen the last two matches since Merrick’s axing but Friday’s clash is likely to be his last as caretaker with the club edging closer to appointing a full-time coach.
Wales international Carl Robinson – who was in the stands for the loss to Melbourne City on Saturday night - is the favourite to get the job and could be appointed next week.
"Obviously it would be nice to get it clarified as quick as it can," Deans said.
"I'm sure the club will be working hard to make that happen but it's also a decision that probably can't be rushed.
"It’s a big decision when you're appointing a head coach and you need to make sure you get that right, so in the meantime I'll do the best I can do to get us moving up the ladder."
Friday, 24 January 2020
Kick-off: 7.15pm local, 5.15pm AEDT
Venue: Sky Stadium
Broadcast: FOX Sports 505
Stream: MyFootball Live App, Kayo Sports