HOME-grown Jets defender Taylor Regan entered a meeting with coach Phil Stubbins on Tuesday expecting the club to deliver a new deal.
Instead, the whole-hearted 26-year-old was dealt the heart-breaking news that he was not a part of the club’s plans.
Regan was one of four players alongside fellow Novocastrian James Virgili, utility Sam Gallagher and trainee goalkeeper John Solari shown the door as the Jets begin a major overhaul following the worst season in the club’s history.
‘‘I was under the impression that I was going there [to the meeting with Stubbins] to be offered a deal,’’ a devastated Regan told the Herald.
‘‘I had been given assurances that there would be something on the table for me.
‘‘For whatever reason this morning I was notified that I was no longer required which was heart-breaking.’’
Regan would not be drawn on who promised what but The Herald has been told that owner Nathan Tinkler, Stubbins and chief executive Mitchell Murphy had indicated that he would be retained.
The most recent assurance came in the aftermath of the Jets’ 4-3 loss to Sydney FC in the final home game 11 days ago where Regan was told his contract would be ‘‘sorted out’’.
‘‘I haven’t been talking with anyone else,’’ Regan said. ‘‘I never wanted to leave this club.’’
In a statement, Stubbins said the coaching staff had delivered ‘‘tough decisions to some great people’’ and re-asserted the club’s commitment to building a squad capable of playing finals football next season.
When asked whether Regan’s future with the Jets had been guaranteed, a Jets spokesman said there was ‘‘nothing further to add beyond what has been released.’’
A graduate from the youth system, Regan has spent eight years at the club, playing 68 A-League games.
He was the inaugural winner of the prestigious Ray Baartz Medal in 2011-12 and on Sunday was named this season’s members club player of the year.
After the sacking of five senior players, including captain Kew Jaliens, in January, Regan was promoted to a leadership group which Stubbins said had helped create a new culture. But the impending arrival of Nigel Boogaard, combined with the re-signing of Daniel Mullen and the recruitment of former fringe Sydney FC defender Themba Muata-Marlow has squeezed the Dudley junior out.
‘‘I am a big enough boy to walk away and hold my head high knowing that every time I went on that pitch I gave 110 per cent for the jersey,’’ Regan said. ‘‘I may not have had the best game every week but I gave everything I had and tried to represent the community the best I could.
‘‘I love this club. More than anything I want to see it succeed. I believe the members and the fans deserve better than what we as a club have dished up for a few years.
‘‘I really hope the club moves forward, like they continue to talk about. Newcastle football has such a rich history, it is about time we start adding to that.’’
In a day of high drama, the Jets confirmed that Allan Welsh and Travis Cooper would not be offered contracts at this stage.
Serbian Enver Alivodic is close to re-signing and talks are continuing with Edson Montano and Max Burgess. Montano is on loan from Ecuadorian club Barcelona and would need to have his contract bought out, which is included in the salary cap.
Like Regan, Virgili is a local junior. The winger, who has played 57 A-League games, has been sidelined for three months with a broken ankle but was only informed of his release late Tuesday.
The future of emerging Toronto junior Nick Cowburn is also in doubt.
Awarded the youth team player of the year on Sunday, Cowburn made 10 A-League appearances at the tail of the season but has not been offered a senior contract.
“We’d love Nick Cowburn to stay at the club however with Scott Neville and Jacob Pepper contracted and able to fulfil the right back role, at this point we need to work within our salary cap and squad size parameters,” Stubbins said.
Western Sydney and Melbourne City have shown interest in the 20-year-old utility. If he exits, it would reduce the Newcastle-born contingent to Ben Kennedy, Ben Kantarovski, Jacob Pepper and Boogaard, who has signed a three-year deal.
The Jets, fresh from the worst season in club history, need to strengthen the squad, but the decision to release the local products, in particular, has met with disapproval.
China-based former Jets defender Josh Mitchell posted on Twitter: ‘‘More local lads gone from the Jets? Would love to see coaches actually coach & try to optimise players performance instead of replacing.’’
Jeremy Brockie added: ‘‘Gutted hearing the news of my good mate Taylor Regan! He works just as hard in the community with the kids as he does on the pitch.’’
Regan, who gets married next month, has started ‘‘learning the ropes’’ at a local real estate agent but is keen to continue playing football professionally.
‘‘I never like to go down without a fight and I will fight to make sure I can continue to play for as long as I can,’’ he said. ‘‘Maybe one day, hopefully, there is a door that opens to bring me back.
‘‘In the meantime, I will look elsewhere. There has been whispers previously about clubs being interested here and there.
‘‘I never really gave it any thought because I never wanted to leave. Now this has come and I have to start thinking about it.
‘‘Australia is a great place to play but financially Asia might be a better option.
‘‘I will have to sit down with my fiance, speak with everyone involved in the decision and make the best move for my family.’’