Ernie Merrick likes what he has been seeing from Jets striker Abdiel Arroyo. Moreso, what the coach has been hearing.
The 25-year-old Panamanian could barely speak a word of English when he touched down in Newcastle four months ago.
Communication was done via hand signals, a language app on a mobile phone and, when possible, through an interpreter.
Arroyo's athleticism, pace, power and eye for goal were clear from the outset. It's been a matter of working out - and communicating - how best to use those talents.
His spectacular strike against Adelaide was a porthole to his potential.
Buoyed by a return to Panama for an international and the arrival of his girlfriend, Yumeyli Carrington, in Newcastle, Merrick is confident Arroyo is primed to deliver his best, starting with a showdown against Western Sydney at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday night.
"Arroyo has come back with a spring in his step," Merrick said. "It was good for him to go back and visit his family and play for Panama. His girlfriend is here now and I'm sure that has something to do with it.
"We brought in his English teacher from the University of Newcastle and she spoke highly of him. He is picking up the language really well.
"I hope we start to see more of him getting into goal-scoring positions and taking his chances. Sometimes he doesn't quite get into the right areas but he is learning more and more. Other times he is in those areas and he is too generous and passes to someone else. But he is really willing to learn and has started asking questions, which is such a good thing. He can score goals. I think he will be a major asset for us, once he clicks into our game plan."
Arroyo is the only likely change from the side which recorded a spirited 1-0 win over Western United before the bye. Angus Thurgate is expected to make way despite his match-winner.
"Angus is a very good player," Merrick said. "He has everything bar consistency and that is what we are working on."
Captain Nigel Boogaard is still hampered by a groin issue and Ben Kantarovski appears set to retain his place in midfield ahead of Matthew Ridenton, who along with left back Bobby Burns has returned from international duties.
"Nigel had a couple of setbacks and hasn't got through a full training session yet ... he will be on the bench, but he is not ready to play," Merrick said. "He is a very good influence on the bench and points out some really interesting things to me as a coach."
The Jets produced a backs-to-the-wall defensive effort in the second half to hold out Western United.
"I showed the boys videos this week on how well we defended as well as attacked," Merrick said. "The inter-passing in the front third in the first half against Western United was some of the best I have seen from any team I have coached. Once we started finishing those off, we will be a really difficult team to handle home or away for any opposition team.
"We did it well in the second half also, but because they threw numbers forward we had to defend well.To their credit Western United came back into the game and made it difficult for us."
Wanderers, who welcome Matt Jurman back from injury, sit in fourth spot but are coming off consecutive losses to Melbourne City (3-2) and Western United (2-1).
"They have lost the last two games but will bounce back from that and be a tough team to play against," Merrick said. "They play pretty open, exciting football as well so I think it will be a really good match."