Newcastle Jets boss Ernie Merrick is expecting more from a fit Ronald Vargas in the 2018-19 A-League season after the Venezuelan penned a new deal with Newcastle Jets on Monday.
The Jets have re-signed their marquee man on a one-year deal following a first season at the club that was interrupted by injury.
Vargas suffered a serious ankle injury in Round 3 against Brisbane Roar, and despite making a miraculous recovery in time for finals, he was not able to reach 100% fitness for the remainder of the campaign.
The attacking-midfielder made a key contribution to the Jets’ finals series however, setting up Riley McGree’s incredible scorpion kick in their semi-final win over Melbourne Victory.
Ultimately Newcastle could not finish the job in finals, but Vargas, who, after returning to action against Wellington Phoenix off the bench, completed some 70 minutes in his remaining games.
Merrick looked forward to a fully fit Vargas in the new campaign with a completed preseason.
“I think Ronnie was only getting started when he first arrived, and he showed us what he was capable of,” Merrick said.
“To be struck down by injury like that was awful, but to come back and play the way he did in the finals series was exceptional.
“He’ll benefit from a full preseason here in Australia, it’s an exciting prospect and I think our fans will feel the same way.”
Vargas himself hoped to repay Newcastle for the outpouring of support he received after he sustained the injury.
“The club were amazing following my injury (last season) and in a really difficult time for me, the support I received from my teammates was so important in helping me get back on the park,” the 31-year-old said.
“The work from our medical team during my rehabilitation is something that I’ll never forget, to come back so quickly from such a serious injury is a credit to them and the quick thinking of Dr. Jeremy Bartlett when I was first injured.
“It was tough to sit on the sidelines during the season, but to return for the finals was something special.
“This team, the club and the entire town have been so welcoming and I’m glad I can call Newcastle home for another season.”
The Jets now have 21 contracted players for next season, including new signing Matt Ridenton.