NEWCASTLE Jets Connor O'Toole, Ramy Najjarine and Luke Prso are one step away from booking a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics.
The trio were part of a 23-man squad named on Tuesday for a final selection camp in Spain later this month.
The three-week camp will feature friendlies against Ireland under-21s and Tokyo-bound nations Saudi Arabia, Romania and Mexico.
The Jets players will be available for the A-League clash against Brisbane Roar at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday night, before jetting out for Marbella next Monday.
The national squad is comprised mainly of overseas-based players. A raft of players from A-League clubs which are in contention for the finals were not considered but they remain firmly in contention for the Games.
An 18-man squad, which could be boosted by three overage players, for the Games will be finalised in late June, before a training camp In Japan in early July.
"I'm always very excited to represent my country," said Najjarine, who returned from an ankle injury in the Jets' 1-0 loss to the Mariners. "I'm still building towards full fitness. The Olyroos staff have a good relationship with the club and they know what level of fitness I am at."
It is the first time Prso has been selected in an under-23's national squad. He was a part of the Young Socceroos last year but was denied the chance to play at the FIFA nder-20 World Cup after it was cancelled due to the COVID 19 pandemic.
"I'm over the moon. There is no greater satisfaction than being able to play for your country," he said. "You have to make the most of the opportunities you are given. Whatever minutes I get over there, I have to make the most of them. That will obviously decide what happens past that. There is a lot of competition in my position in the middle of the park."
Jets midfielder Angus Thurgate was a surprise omission from the group named on Tuesday. The 21-year-old received high praise from coach Graham Arnold after a previous camp in Sydney in November.
"I love him," Arnold told the Newcastle Herald. "His energy, his strength, his cleverness ... he is very impressive."
John Koutroumbis and recent arrival Jordan O'Doherty, who have previously been involved, were also overlooked.
Najjarine and O'Toole were both part of the Olyroos squad which beat Uzbekistan 1-0 in the play-off for third at the Asian under-23 championships in January, 2020, to secure a place at the Tokyo Olympics - the first time Australia have qualified since Beijing in 2008.
O'Toole made the move to Newcastle from Brisbane shortly afterwards.
Najjarine and Prso arrived this season on loan from Melbourne City and Croatian club Osijek respectively.
All three came to the Jets in search of game time.
O'Toole has started every game bar the 3-1 loss to City three weeks ago when sideline with a hip flexor issue.
Najjarine, after a bright start, has been hindered by a series of ankle injures which has restricted the No.10 to 14 appearances.
In his first year of senior football, Prso arrived in late January, made his debut in a a 1-all draw with Wanderers in round six and has played every game.
"I have gotten a load of minutes," he said. "Obviously the national team coaches have been watching and some of the stuff I have been doing has impressed them.
"I have played a lot, I have learnt a lot. Some good games, some not so good games. I think that is normal for a young player."
By the time the Olyroos squad is finalised, Prso and Naajjarine;s loan deals will be completed. Whether they return to the Jets for a second season is in the air.
"After the camp I will reflect on everything, sit down and discuss what my options are," Prso said. "I am not going to cross anything out. I will see what is best for me heading into next season.
"It was important for me to take the step from junior football to senior football. That line has been crossed now.
"The next step, whether it is at Osijek or elsewhere, is about getting consistent game time again and improving.
"Osijek had a great season and finished second on the table in Croatia. Next year they will be playing Europa League. They are a club with huge ambition. I have personal goals as well and want to be able to crack that team. We will see when I head back into pre-season."
Asked if he was interested in staying in Newcastle, Najjrine said: "Of course. I have enjoyed my time here. I don't know what I'm doing. At the moment, I am at the Jets and my full focus is on this weekend's game and getting a result."
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