Jets defender Connor O'Toole wants to "nail down a first team spot this season and next" as the 2019-20 A-League campaign sets to restart amid fresh coronavirus concerns.
The Olyroos representative and Tokyo Olympic hopeful, who signed with Newcastle in January prior to the COVID-19 shutdown, is eyeing off the left back position for Tuesday's clash against Sydney FC at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium and beyond.
However, with areas in Sydney's south-west now being labelled 'hot spots', on top of Melbourne's current outbreak, FFA has begun to prepare a 'Plan B' where clubs relocate to Queensland but the sport's governing body intends to play out the remaining fixtures in NSW.
O'Toole, 23, simply wants to get back on the paddock after almost four months away from competition matches and welcomed this week's return of Jets coach Carl Robinson.
"It feels weird actually going into games now [after the break], but it [training] has been very good especially now that the boss is back," O'Toole told the Newcastle Herald.
"I think things are starting to feel a lot more real and the boys are getting excited, me especially. It's a good opportunity to nail down a first team spot for this season and next season."
O'Toole played 90 minutes in Newcastle's most recent win against Melbourne City on March 23 and had been going head-to-head with Northern Ireland's Bobby Burns, who was on loan but won't be returning.
"Maybe six weeks before the shutdown, me and Bobby had a little competition going for that spot," O'Toole said.
"Things were looking good for me and then everything stopped, so I'm happy we're restarting and hopefully I can keep that spot now."
O'Toole has noticed a "step up" in "intensity" since the arrival of Robinson and was looking forward to Wednesday's trial with Western Sydney at Ourimbah.
The Jets have four games left, starting with leaders the Sky Blues on July 21 and followed by Central Coast away (July 24) before hosting Western United (August 2) and Wellington Phoenix (August 9) at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Newcastle sit ninth on the ladder but are only three points shy of the top six.
"We really need to win the four matches to have a chance," O'Toole said.
O'Toole said making Australia's under-23 squad for next year's Olympics was a "massive goal" and the 12-month delay "gives me a bit of extra time to state my case for the side".
Meanwhile, former Jets assistant Jean-Paul de Marigny was on Tuesday appointed head coach of the Wanderers until the end of the 2020-21 season after initially taking over six months ago in the wake of Markus Babbel's departure.
And Perth Glory captain Diego Castro is citing coronavirus fears for opting out of the A-League's resumption. The Spanish marquee said that playing in a Sydney-based hub is an "unacceptable health risk" for himself and his family.
IN OTHER NEWS
- Rugby Union: Maitland's Nic White keen for Bledisloe Cup test in whirlwind year
- The Lowedown: Football is back for 2020, better late than never
- NRL: How rival teams are bombarding Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga
- Golf: NDGA back in the swing with district championships, pennants and rep trip
- Racing: Andrew Gibbons edges closer to state jockey's premiership
While you're with us, did you know the Newcastle Herald offers breaking news alerts, daily email newsletters and more? Keep up to date with all the local news - sign up here