ARCHIE Goodwin is looming in the rear-view mirror, but Newcastle's new-look strike force of Apostolos Stamatelopoulos and Trent Buhagiar are more focused on scoring goals than on their teenage teammate.
Goodwin appears set to play his first game of the season when the Jets clash with derby rivals Central Coast at Gosford on Saturday, having been back in full training for a month after two surgeries on his back.
The Australian under-20 striker is regarded as one of the A-League's hottest prospects but Jets coach Rob Stanton won't be rushing him into the starting line-up, in part because Stamatelopoulos and Buhagiar have already formed a promising combination up front.
Stamatelopoulos has scored four goals in four games this season and, while Buhagiar is yet to open his account, he has been a handy foil.
"It's been going really well so far," Buhagiar said.
"Even in pre-season we were working well together, scoring goals and assisting and all that kind of thing.
"It's also good to help the team out as well.
"Obviously we want to be winning football games, and we're contributing to that, so it's been a really good start so far."
The Mariners, last season's champions, have endured a disastrous start to their title defence, losing all four games and conceding nine goals in the process.
Newcastle, in contrast, are coming off a 1-0 win against Western United before the bye week, and Buhagiar expects there will be plenty of scoring opportunities against a Central Coast outfit who are presumably short on confidence.
"There's a lot of space in there, which suits my game to get in behind," he said.
"Obviously me and AP have been working well and we'll go through training this week, have a look at them on video and all that kind of stuff, and see where we can exploit them."
Having started his A-League career at the Mariners, for whom he scored four goals in 50 games, Buhagiar is well aware that they can't be underestimated.
"They'll want to come out and bring the game to us," he said. "They're at home now so they'll want to excite their fans at home, and obviously it's a derby, so they're going to bring that extra energy.
"And obviously they haven't won a game yet, so there's that factor as well.
"We're really looking forward to it. We'll have a really good strong week at training and prepare well, and we'll come out firing ... champions or not, we definitely want to go there and win. It's a derby and you always want to win a derby.
"We'll have a really good week at training and get stuck in."
Buhagiar said the Jets had freshened up during the bye but would have preferred to keep playing to maintain their momentum.