STEVE Ugarkovic may have played his last game for the Newcastle Jets after he was not selected for Tuesday night's 1-all draw with Perth Glory in Coffs Harbour.
Ugarkovic has signed to join Western Sydney Wanderers next season and Jets officials have been approached at least twice to consider granting him an early release. With a transfer window opening this month, there has been speculation that Ugarkovic would be allowed to join former Newcastle coach Carl Robinson at the Wanderers, although the Jets are understood to be seeking a player to replace the midfield mainstay.
Ugarkovic has now missed Newcastle's past three games.
He was omitted for the 1-0 loss to Western United on Easter Monday because of injury, then sat on the bench for the 2-1 defeat by Melbourne Victory on Saturday.
The 26-year-old, who has played in 132 games for Newcastle, was not selected for the trip to Coffs, in a sign that he has apparently fallen out of favour with coach Craig Deans.
Asked about Ugarkovic last week, Deans said: "He's professional enough, and I respect him enough, that while he's here, if he gets selected, he gets selected.
"If not, if he's on the bench or not in the squad, he's big enough to cope with all those outcomes."
In the absence of Ugarkovic and the injured Ben Kantarovski, Deans again stuck with his youthful midfield trio of Ramy Najjarine, Luka Prso and Apostolos Stamatelopoulos against Perth.
The Jets were under pressure from the outset, goalkeeper Lewis Italiano diving to save a Carlo Armiento shot inside the first minute.
Newcastle had their share of opportunities, and both Angus Thurgate and Roy O'Donovan came close to scoring in the first half.
Perth substitute Joel Chianese broke the deadlock in the 61st minute after combining with Bruno Fornaroli and Andy Keogh.
O'Donovan equalised with a penalty in the 67th minute. The draw ended Newcastle's seven-game losing run and lifted them a point clear of last-placed Melbourne Victory.
- MORE SOCCER P36-37