NEIL Young may not be in the Newcastle Jets squad flying out for Wellington today, but the luckless goalkeeper will be in the thoughts of his teammates.
Young remains in hospital as he recovers from a series of medical complications after surgery to repair a fractured nose last month.
Youth team keeper Dion Shaw will act as back-up to Ben Kennedy in the sell-out showdown against Wellington at Westpac Stadium on Sunday.
Young, who is contracted for next year, played an integral role in the Jets' mid-season revival, but for now his teammates simply want him to get well.
"He is always in the back of our minds," defender Adam D'Apuzzo said.
"We know he wants to be out there and we know he is watching. Hopefully we can put a smile on his face.
"We all have our own motivation and he is definitely one of them."
Although Kennedy and Young compete for the same spot, they share a strong bond.
When Kennedy came under fire earlier in the season, Young leapt to his defence.
"Being keepers we are closer than a lot of the others," Kennedy said.
"We spend so much time together. We are roommates when we go away; every training session we work together.
"Hopefully he will be right sooner rather than later. I'm certainly looking forward to having him back here."
Young had his nose broken in five places when he was kicked in the face by Shane Smeltz during the 2-0 loss to the Gold Coast at Skilled Park in round 22.
He had surgery on January 22 but suffered an adverse reaction to antibiotics prescribed after the procedure. The reaction affected his digestive system and he has since had two more operations.
He was released from the intensive care unit only on Monday.
Although finally on the improve, he has lost 13 kilograms from his already wiry frame.
Jets teammates have been regulars at his hospital bedside.
"'He has been doing it tough for the last month," midfielder Jobe Wheelhouse said.
"The Gold Coast win was for him, and hopefully we can get another one against Wellington.
"We are feeling for him.
"Hopefully he can get back on his feet over the next couple of finals games."
Korean midfielder Song Jin-hyung will make the trip across the Tasman despite struggling with a virus.
Song was sent home from yesterday's session as a precaution after missing training on Monday.
"He turned up this morning, but we told him to go home and rest," Jets assistant coach Mark Jones said.
"He had a bit of a virus and is a bit run down.
"It wasn't an important session so we gave him the day off.
"He will be fine."