THE chances of captain Nigel Boogaard playing a final season with the Jets have improved significantly after in-coming defender James Donachie agreed to a loan deal in India.
Donachie signed a three-year deal with the Jets in March, but will spend the first 12 months playing for FC Goa in the Indian Super League, which kicks off in November and runs until the end of March.
The 2021 A-League campaign is slated to start in mid January.
The Jets will receive a loan fee for Donachie and his absence will open up room in the salary cap, which is expected to be cut from $3.2 million to $2.1m next season.
Boogaard, 34, was not long back from injury when Donachie was signed but finished the season in career-best form.
Coach Carl Robinson wants to retain Boogaard, but fitting the skipper into a roster including fellow centrebacks Donachie, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Johnny Koutroumbis and Lachy Jackson, who is due back from a ruptured anterior ligament in December, was proving problematic.
Robinson said the impact of COVID-19 on football worldwide, had paid a part in the decision to loan Donachie out.
"We signed James because he's proven he's a high-quality player at the Hyundai A-League level, but an offer came up for him to go out on loan that was too good for us and him to refuse," Robinson said in statement.
"We had to look at the facts as they are, and financially it's a great deal for both parties and we as a club didn't want to stand in James' way.
"What's important is that he's our player until 2023, he'll be back at the Jets down the track and I'm sure the experience in India will be a positive one for him."
Donachie said he remained committed to the Jets.
"When the offer came up, I spoke with Carl about it and the move to the ISL for one season is good from a financial standpoint for both me and the club," the 27-year-old former Victory central defender said.
"For me, the opportunity to test myself in a different environment and experience a completely different culture in India will be a challenge.
"From that perspective I'm looking forward to it, but I'm also really looking forward to playing for the Jets in the future. I'll be disappointed to miss what I think will be a really good season in Newcastle under Carl next season, but I'm excited at the prospect of two more years at the Jets at the end of my stint in India."