RELUCTANT Newcastle Jet Joel Griffiths was last night poised to defy a club directive to return to training today.
When asked if he would clock in for training at 3pm today at Newcastle University, Griffiths said: "I'm not sure. I'm still tossing and turning whether to because I've got a few things, which have nothing to do with not turning up tomorrow, that I need to tie up."
Griffiths has lived in Sydney since returning two months ago from his loan stint with Chinese champions Beijing Guoan.
Beijing and the Jets are still deadlocked over the playing future of the former Johnny Warren medallist, who is contracted to Newcastle for two more seasons.
Griffiths has said he wants to return to the Chinese Super League to push his claims for World Cup selection.
Jets director of football Remo Nogarotto said yesterday that there had been no movement on a deal between the club and Beijing.
Griffiths said the uncertainty surrounding his future was taking its toll emotionally on him and his wife, Bianca, who have an eight-month-old daughter, Gizelle,
"It's gone a little too far now and it's stressful, for not just myself but my family," he said.
"We just want to know and get on with our lives, and we can't at the moment."
Jets chairman Con Constantine and coach Branko Culina have said publicly they expect Griffiths at training today.
Newcastle right back Tarek Elrich said Griffiths could expect no ill-feeling from the players if he came to training today.
"He got player of the year the year we won the grand final, so he's done a lot of good for the club and the team, and when I see him tomorrow I'll make sure I say g'day and make him feel welcome," Elrich said last night.
"I think he's doing it for all the right reasons.
"He's pushing for an Australian team spot and he thinks he needs to be overseas to be part of that, so I guess that's what he needs to do to make his dreams come true."
Elrich said the Griffiths contract dispute has not been a distraction for the players.
"When the whole thing was going on the boys didn't even mention it at training, so it wasn't something to be sidetracked by," he said.
"We weren't playing that well, then we won four in a row, so that took all the attention off Joel leaving."
Elrich said he hoped Griffiths and his goal-scoring abilities stayed at the Jets, but the defender warned it could be problematic if the striker was unhappy about being back in Newcastle.
"If his heart is here and he's in the groove of scoring goals, then Joel's a good player, but if he doesn't want to be here, I don't know where he'll find the motivation," Elrich said.