STAR striker Francis Jeffers is preparing to leave the Newcastle Jets at the end of his 10-game guest stint after club management yesterday indicated they were unable to commit to the former England international beyond this season.
Jeffers, 29, has been instrumental in turning the Jets’ A-League fortunes around but the home clash against Sydney FC on January 3 now looms as his last.
‘‘They are saying they want to keep me but the chat I had with the club today was disheartening,’’ Jeffers told the Newcastle Herald after training last night.
‘‘I have enjoyed my time here. I told the club if everything was right I would love to stay but I don’t think that is going to happen.
‘‘The big thing for me is securing my future and my family’s.
‘‘I can’t accept a deal until the end of this season with nothing for next season.
‘‘From what was said today, the club is not in a position to offer me a deal and by the looks of things, I’ll be going back to England.
‘‘My flight is booked for January 5 and I’ll be going then.’’
Jeffers met with Jets chief executive John Tsatsimas yesterday and will have further talks with executive chairman Ken Edwards today but it appears unlikely that the situation will change.
‘‘We indicated to him that we would love for him to stay for the rest of the season if we can find a way,’’ Edwards said.
‘‘But we are not in a position to make him an offer for next year yet because we don’t have an indication from the FFA what the salary cap situation will be.’’
Edwards met with A-League boss Lyall Gorman on Friday to discuss what options were available to extend Jeffers’ stay this season.
They are also awaiting a decision regarding next season's salary cap and provisions for overseas, Australian and under-23 marquee positions, which are not included in the cap.
The biggest obstacle the Jets face for this season is that they have already filled their quota of five overseas player - Michael Bridges, Jeremy Brockie, Ali Abbas, Marcello Fiorentini and Zhang Shuo.
Jeffers could be signed as an injury replacement, but only if the Jets had a place for a visa player. The rarely used Chinese striker Zhang would be the obvious one to offload.
Jeffers could then be signed as a replacement for Sean Rooney, who suffered a season ending knee injury last month.
That would also involve Jeffers taking a massive pay cut as replacement players can only earn the same amount as the injured player.
‘‘I can’t stay here on a deal to March and scupper [possible] deals in the Major League Soccer,’’ Jeffers said.
‘‘There is also interest from England and Qatar, but if I wait [past the end of the January transfer window] they will be gone,
‘‘I have enjoyed my football here and while I would love to stay around I have to do what is best for me.’’
Jeffers has been a revelation. The Jets had scored five goals in the opening 11 games but his arrival in November sparked a club-record seven game unbeaten streak which only came to an end when a severely depleted outfit was humbled 4-0 by Wellington on Saturday.
‘‘I will enjoy the last two games, give it my all,’’ he said.
‘‘It has been great. The people have been good to me, everyone at the club, the fans have been brilliant.
‘‘They will be as disappointed as me, but that is football.’’
Jeffers was one of several players on light duties last night after the horror road trip Wellington.
Ben Kennedy (ankle) was restricted to riding an exercise bike but the home grown shot stopper said he ws in no doubt for the match against Melbourne Victory.
The news was not as good on fellow gloveman Matt Nash who has a grade one tear in his adductor and faces at least two weeks on the sideline.
Kennedy has not played since straining knee ligaments in the final stages of the 1-all draw with Central Coast Mariners a month ago.
He suffered a further setback in New Zealand when he rolled his ankle at training on Friday and was in doubt to take his place on the bench.
‘‘There were holes in the ground and I didn’t see them,’’ Kennedy said.
‘‘We were doing a shooting drill and I went to get back into position and rolled it.
‘‘If I had too, I could have played on the weekend but I would have struggled.
‘‘I saw the doctor and had physio today. Thankfully there is no structural damage.
‘‘I will take easy at the start of the week and build it up. Hopefully by Thursday I will be back training with the group.
‘‘Melbourne is a big game.
‘‘They haven’t lost in five games and it is going to be a big challenge for us, especially down there.
‘‘We have some players back and are confident we can go down and get a result.’’