COACH Branko Culina is adamant the Jets have not seen the best of home-grown midfielder Jobe Wheelhouse.
Wheelhouse, 26 next month, put pen to paper on a new two-year deal yesterday.
The Jets are in talks with unwanted Sydney FC left back Byun Sung-hwan.
Wheelhouse, an industrious playmaker, had his first professional contract with Newcastle United when he was 15 but injuries have prevented the Toronto product from reaching his potential.
It is a situation coach and player hope is in the past.
‘‘I firmly believe Jobe is capable, provided he has an injury-free run, of being a genuine box-to-box midfielder,’’ Culina said.
‘‘There are not too many of those players going around.
‘‘We saw that wonder strike against Gold Coast last season.
‘‘That was just a sign of what he is capable of doing.
‘‘There will be some strong competition in midfield and I think Jobe will have to reinvent himself a little bit.
‘‘I saw enough last year in the run to the finals to know that he is the type of player we could do well with.
‘‘I think if he gets through a really good pre-season, we could see the best of him.’’
After missing the first half of the campaign with a knee problem, Wheelhouse played the final 12 games and is confident his injuries are now behind him.
‘‘I was getting back to somewhere near my best in those group of games but I still have room for improvement,’’ he said.
‘‘It is good to now have a bit of security, knowing I will be here for the next two years. This is where I want to be, playing in front of friends and family.
‘‘I’m looking forward to the break now and then tear in again and have a decent pre-season.’’
Wheelhouse’s signature extends the number of Northern NSW products on the Jets roster to six joining Ben Kantarovski, Ben Kennedy, Taylor Regan, James Virgili and Sam Gallaway.
‘‘You have to be mindful of giving locals an opportunity and also make sure you have a strong team on the park until you develop the youngsters through,’’ Culina said.
‘‘We have taken a punt on young Virgili, Gallaway and Regan. Now they have to do the right thing by proving it was the right decision.’’
Wheelhouse’s retention leaves the Jets with at least four places – stopper, left back, striker, second goalkeeper – to fill.
Culina said talks were progressing with Iraq midfielder Ali Abbas.
Culina met Byun in Newcastle on Thursday and the coach said the Korean was an option.
‘‘He came up to Newcastle and had a look around,’’ Culina said.
‘‘We are looking at other options as well.’’