SAMUEL Silvera is bracing for a baptism of fire if he makes his debut for the Newcastle Jets in their season-opener against his former Central Coast teammates.
Under the initial A-League draw announced on Thursday, the Jets will host their derby rivals at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday, November 21, allowing Silvera to renew acquaintances with the Mariners for the first time since his 21-game stint for them two seasons ago.
"I'm expecting a couple of boos and a couple of chants coming my way but that's all part of the game, and I'm looking forward to it," Silvera said on Friday. "Between the Central Coast and Newcastle, I think that is the biggest game in the competition.
"It's for bragging rights ... as soon as we step over the white line, it'll be a tough game."
No matter how hostile the reception he receives, Silvera believes he is well equipped to cope after a 12-month stint in Portugal that hardened his mindset.
After signing for FC Paos de Ferreira, he was loaned to Casa Pia and then Sanjoanense but spent almost four months on the sidelines because of an ankle injury and a dose of COVID-19.
"I haven't had a big injury like that," the 20-year-old said.
"Being away from home and family and friends, dealing with that myself, and then to get COVID ... it was crazy.
"Just to be calm and deal with it myself, I'm pretty proud of myself.
"Now I feel mentally a lot stronger and I'm going to carry that on for the rest of my football career."
A natural right winger who can also play more centrally, Silvera established himself as one of the A-League's rising stars in his debut season with the Mariners.
The former Blacktown City junior said his main goal with Newcastle is to be playing regularly.
"After last year, having the injury, having COVID, I needed game time," he said.
"That was very important to me.
"We were looking at some options in Europe but then the boss [Jets coach Arthur Papas] came to me.
"I spoke to him and he came with a very exciting way of football - good attacking football, which suited my style - and that just appealed to me straight away.
"I think that was the best option for me."
Papas is confident Silvera can add "a lot of pace and creativity to our attack."
Silvera predicted Newcastle's playing style under Papas would soon attract attention.
"The style of football he wants to play, the players he's brought in ... we'll bring an exciting brand of football to the A-League, which not many people have seen," he said.
"Hopefully we can go on and do very well."