Merrick eyeing shock return for Jets marquee
When Ronald Vargas collapsed to the Suncorp Stadium turf following an awkward clash with Matt McKay, there were fears the Venezuelan may never take the football field again.
But remarkably, just three weeks following surgery to repair his shattered ankle, Vargas is on track to make a shock return this season.
Speaking following Newcastle’s come-from-behind win over Adelaide United, Jets boss Ernie Merrick admitted the club were hoping to have the silky midfielder available before the finals.
“Ronny’s injury is coming on rapidly. Initially it was thought we’d maybe get him in for the finals, which is April,” Merrick said at the post-game press conference.
“Then it [the target] was March but we’re kind of hoping it might be February because everything is healing so well.”
Newcastle have enjoyed one of their best-ever starts to a season and sit atop the ladder following four wins and two draws to kick off the new campaign.
But Merrick, a two-time Hyundai A-League Championship winner with Melbourne Victory, believes the Jets may need reinforcements if they are to challenge at the pointy end of the season.
The Scotsman has hinted that the club will use the January transfer window to bolster their squad, though he ruled out bringing a former Jet back to Newcastle.
“I don’t know if we have the depth when it counts. The last three or four games of the year and in the finals you’ve really got to have players fit and ready to go,” Merrick said.
“There’s talk about us signing Nathan Burns. We’re not going to sign Nathan Burns.
“But in the January window we’ll have a look and see if a quality player becomes available. I think our owner would be open to signing a player at that stage given we’ve gone so long without Vargas.”
In positive news, fullback Daniel Georgievski is recovering well from a hamstring injury and is in line to return against Sydney FC on Saturday.