Interim Jets coach Craig Deans says Bernie Ibini gets the "same attention" as the rest of the Newcastle squad now he's back on the training paddock and doubts the disgruntled striker will see any game time until next month.
Ibini returned to Ray Watt Oval on Thursday following more than a week away on stress leave with Deans preparing the group, which now includes four Olyroos representatives again, for upcoming trials against Edgeworth and Macarthur.
The 28-year-old former Socceroo mingled with teammates during the session but was mainly flying solo completing an individualised program after his break.
This 10-day hiatus came about because of contract negotiations between the parties with the Jets refusing Ibini a release from the final year of his deal and Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) players union now acting as a mediator.
"To be honest I'm not getting involved in the stuff off the field, that's up for [Jets] management and Bernie's management to deal with," Deans told the Newcastle Herald.
"For me when he [Ibini] steps on the grass he's part of the squad and we give him the same attention as everyone else.
"When he's ready and fit to play then he'll come into contention, but he's still a fair way away from that point at the moment."
The Jets have pre-season friendlies against Northern NSW National Premier League minor-major title winners Edgeworth at Jack McLaughlin Oval on Saturday and fellow A-League club Macarthur at Maitland Sportsground next week (November 26).
Another fixture remains in the pipeline for Newcastle before the first round on December 27, but the following one locked in will be Brisbane Roar at Coffs Harbour on December 12.
Deans says this later trial date shapes as the most likely comeback for Ibini at the moment.
"He hasn't trained for 10 days so he's no chance of playing this weekend," Deans said.
"It depends on how he progresses with his program ... just building up gradually so probably again the Macarthur game isn't an option really. You're looking at the following game that we've got."
Deans said Ibini won't train with the main group straight away, predominately working with the strength and conditioning staff and physiotherapist.
"They came back in good spirits and in a good mood. It was good for them to represent their country, get a win and get some game time, Deans said.
Deans expects each of them to feature at some stage against Edgeworth this weekend along with trialists Valentino Yuel, Antony Burke and Jack Armson.
Jets chief executive officer Lawrie McKinna said there were no updates on the vacant head coach role or the club's ownership.
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