INDUSTRIOUS Jets midfielder Steve Ugarkovic wants to forge a career in Europe.
Each day, he is learning off three men - coach Carl Robinson, assistant Kenny Miller and fellow play-maker Joe Ledley - who have scaled the heights on The Continent.
On Sunday, he will have the job of keeping tabs on Alessandro Diamanti, an Italian superstar who earned 17 caps for his country and played in the English Premier League.
The Jets need to beat Diamanti's Western United at McDonald Jones Stadium to keep their slim hopes of making the A-League play-offs alive
"Diamanti is a great player and has had a great career," Ugarkovic said of the 37-year-old who starred in the English and Italian top flight. "If I can keep tabs on him and control him, it will be a big part of the game.
"They like to use their wingbacks a fair bit and obviously they have Dimanti in the middle."
Ugarkovic spent three years in Croatia as a teenager before returning to Australia in 2016 and joining the Jets.
The now 25-year-old has started every game bar one in the past three seasons and under Carl Robinson, who played 52 games for Wales, has taken his game to a new level.
"I'm loving my time here under Carl," Ugarkovic said after a training session in the rain at Northern NSW football headquarters at Speers Point on Tuesday.
"He has added a new dimension to my game and I feel myself growing under him. Carl has given me the responsibility of controlling the game. I can still get better at it. I know that.
"I have always enjoyed that [responsibility] and have always wanted that. Now I have got it, I have to keep going with it and pay back the faith of the coaching staff.
"I have been having a lot more touches on the ball and am making more passes. Roughly last season I was around 40 to 50 touches and I have extended that to maybe 60, 70 or 80 depending on the type of game.
"Positionally, I feel a lot more structured and have a better understanding under Carl and Kenny. They have explained things more and showed me things where I can improve. Getting touches on the ball and controlling the game are the main two things I have focused on."
Ledley, who played in the Premier League, won three titles with Celtic and was one of Wales' heroes in their stunning run to the semi-finals in the 2016 European Championships, was a mid-season signing for the Jets.
"I have learnt heaps off Joe," Ugarkovic said. I pick his brain every day. For me, his body position is outstanding. The way he controls it and the way he knows where players are coming from ... if I can add that into my game it will help me."
Ugarkovic has a season to run on his contact in Newcastle and knows his form will determine the next move.
"If I keep playing well and get more out of my game, the interest will come," Ugarkovic said.
"That is how it happens everywhere in football. If you play well, you sell yourself. That has always been my motto."
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