THE Newcastle Jets have secured a foundation stone for their rebuilding operation after goalkeeper Jack Duncan agreed to a three-year contract extension.
After a two-year stint with Saudi Arabian club Al-Qadsiah, Duncan returned to the Jets at the start of this season on a 12-month deal.
In a show of faith, Jets officials have extended his tenure and the former Australian under-23 representative has become one of only a handful of players in Newcastle's history to have been offered a deal of such duration.
Still only 27, Duncan has made 57 A-League appearances for Newcastle and appears on track to eventually overtake Ben Kennedy (159 games) as the club's most-capped keeper.
"Jack's shown in his two or three stints with the club that he definitely has the quality to play in this league," Jets coach Craig Deans told the Newcastle Herald.
"He's a player who was part of our youth team and we can say we developed him ourselves.
"We've managed to keep him around for a few more years.
"He's still only young, for a keeper, and he's probably got at least seven or eight years of good football ahead of him. So for us to get him locked in is a good thing."
Duncan will be hoping to win a recall to the starting side for Saturday's clash with Melbourne Victory at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Hindered by a niggling arm injury, he was replaced three games ago by Lewis Italiano, but Deans said Duncan was back to full fitness and pressing for reinstatement.
"It's a situation where they both have to push themselves at training and, if a decision needs to be made to change, then I'll do it," Deans said.
"Lewie came in three games ago, and while we've lost all three games, it's not right to say the keeper was to blame. It's a collective thing.
"But in terms of who plays this week, the battle is on and it's up to both of them to leave me with a tough decision."
Duncan's re-signing continues Newcastle's retention drive, after recently extending Angus Thurgate and Lucas Mauragis for a further two seasons.
Meanwhile, despite speculation surrounding the future of Steven Ugarkovic, Deans remains hopeful the midfielder will play out the season with Newcastle.
Ugarkovic has signed to join Western Sydney next season and has twice requested an early release to link with the Wanderers, who look likely to be involved in the play-offs.
"At the moment, he's still our player," Deans said.
"Obviously if the Wanderers want to get him early, those conversations will take place above my head."
Nursing a back injury, Ugarkovic is set to miss Saturday's clash with Victory, which is shaping as a likely battle for the wooden spoon.
His midfield partner, Ben Kantarovski, is also likely to be sidelined again after recurring problems with a calf injury that has prevented him from making an appearance this season.