STAR Newcastle Jets youngster Ben Kantarovski was hospitalised twice in the aftermath of Friday night's win over the Mariners as he continues a punishing schedule of A-League commitments, international duties and HSC exams.
Kantarovski was admitted to John Hunter Hospital with suspected appendicitis hours after playing a full game in the heated local derby.
Tests revealed he was suffering from a virus he might have picked up from the water while playing for Australia in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Egypt this month.
But not even an exam tomorrow will prevent the 17-year-old midfielder from lining up for the Jets against Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium.
The Lambton High School whiz kid has arranged to take his personal development, health and physical education exam at the Queensland Studies Authority headquarters in downtown Brisbane.
The three-hour paper, his second last, is not scheduled to finish until 5pm, 31/2 hours before kick-off.
The unusual match preparation continues a hectic and at times traumatic 10 days for the teenager which will have included five exams, a 2-1 derby win over Central Coast and two nights in John Hunter Hospital with a stomach virus.
"It has been the worst," Kantarovski told The Herald yesterday after his three-unit maths exam.
The P-plater, who is completing Year 12 over two years, sat an English exam on the morning of the Jets' win over the Mariners.
Later that night he took ill and was rushed to hospital.
"At about midnight I started to get really bad stomach cramps," he said.
"They got worse and worse and I ended up going to hospital. Initially they thought it was my appendix.
"I had some blood tests and it ended up being a virus. I went home early Saturday morning but after a couple of hours the cramps returned and were stronger. I couldn't walk.
"I went back to hospital, they admitted me and dosed me up with morphine and antibiotics.
"They think I might have picked up something from the water when I was in Egypt [for the Under-20 World Cup] earlier in the month."
Kantarovski was released from hospital on Sunday and sat his two-unit maths exam on Tuesday.
"With the painkillers it was a bit hard to study on Monday, but I got through OK," Kantarovski said.
"I still have a bit of pain with my stomach, but I should be close to 100 per cent by Friday."
Kantarovski trained for the first time, albeit with the youth team, yesterday and will rejoin the senior squad this morning before flying to Brisbane.
Coach Branko Culina admitted the tyro's workload was a concern.
"It is not easy for a 17-year-old to be juggling all of those things," the coach said. "In an ideal situation you would probably say, 'Have a bit of a rest', but we need him."
The hard work, both physically and mentally, does not end tomorrow for the Broadmeadow Magic junior.
He goes into camp with the Australian under 19s in Sydney on Monday, sits his final exam, physics, at Chatswood High on Wednesday then leaves that afternoon for Indonesia and the Asian Cup qualifiers.
"I'm looking forward to finishing that final exam," Kantarovski said.
"The rest of my mates are off to schoolies week at Byron Bay and I'm going to Indonesia.
"I guess I'll catch up with them for dinner or something when I get back."
Kantarovski sat his first HSC exam, chemistry, last year in Saudi Arabia at the Australian embassy when he was on duty with the Young Socceroos.
Despite the difficulties of managing school and football, Kantarovski, who has already caught the eye of German giants Bayern Munich, does not intend to call full-time on his studies just yet.
"I'd like to do something at university," he said. "I'm interested in architecture and engineering or maybe something to do with sports science.
"I don't know what the older boys [at the Jets] do in their spare time. In the school holidays I find I get bored."