Wheelhouse set for return

Jets skipper Jobe Wheelhouse is a chance of making his comeback against the Wellington Phoenix this Friday night at Ausgrid after spending a frustrating month on the sidelines with a perplexing illness.

Jets skipper Jobe Wheelhouse is a chance of making his comeback against the Wellington Phoenix this Friday night at Ausgrid after spending a frustrating month on the sidelines with a perplexing illness.

Wheelhouse has endured a challenging time having to watch Newcastle's last four games from the grandstand with his left foot in plastic brace after a bout of cellulitis.

The skin infection came up suddenly a month ago and at first baffled the Jets medical team.

"On the Thursday before the Wellington match I trained fine with the team but when I woke up on Friday I couldn-t walk," Wheelhouse said.

"My foot was really swollen and inflamed and I spent four days in hospital on a drip.

"The IV and antibiotics worked initially and brought swelling down but I still couldn't walk on it and I couldn-t even put on a shoe it was that painful.

"It was just the one spot in the joint just below my little toe and it was eventually diagnosed as a cellulitis, which is a bacterial infection inside your skin."

The burly midfielder was ordered to rest and continue his course of antibiotics but they seemed to have little effect over the next three weeks as his condition failed to improve.

"It wasn't an ill feeling, just very painful and I couldn-t walk without the boot (brace)," he said.

"I was forced to just do pool work and upper body gym work to keep the fitness up and tried bits of pieces of bike and cardio work but it seemed to flare it up a bit, so I had to take some time off and try to let the antibiotics work.

"It was very frustrating because I want to be out there playing and it has been really hard to watch.

"With my injury history it hasn't been good but to miss games from something that seems so minor is extremely frustrating."

But antibiotics and a heavy dose of cortisone last week finally eliminated the problem and he has been training with the squad this week in the hope of making his comeback against the Phoenix.

Jets assistant coach Craig Deans revealed that they were keen to get Wheelhouse back on the park and have included him in an extended 17-man squad for Friday night's match against the Phoenix, but due to his fall in fitness he will most likely be restricted to a bench spot.

"He has only had one good session on Wednesday and obviously today so I don't know whether he will start but he is obviously in the mix," Deans said.

“It takes a little bit of time to get your fitness back when you have been out for an extended period.”

In other team news Tarek Elrich is back from suspension, but striker Francis Jeffers is still sidelined after losing fitness from an ankle injury while defender Tiago Calvano is also out with suspension.