NEWCASTLE Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna can sense that Dimi Petratos has the fire back in his belly.
What's more, McKinna has no doubts that the play-maker will be at his destructive best for the Jets next season.
Petratos played 10 minutes off the bench in the Socceroos' 1-0 loss to Korea in Busan on Friday night.
It was the 26-year-old's first involvement for the national team since a friendly against Colombia before the 2018 World Cup.
"It was great for him and great for the club," McKinna said. "Especially the fact that he got some time on the pitch. When he went to the World Cup he never played. The next couple of games he was out of favour. To get called up was a bolt out of the blue. I'm sure he wasn't even expecting it. To go over there, get on the park and do OK, it has given him a real sniff. He will want to get back to his 2017-18 form and play in the national team every time they play."
After a break-out season in 2017-18 in which Petratos steered the Jets to a grand final berth and was a finalist for the Johnny Warren Medal, the attacker didn't have the same impact last season.
In a way, he was a victim of his own success. He was marked man every time he crossed the line.
With marquee midfielder Ronny Vargas departing, Petratos is most likely to be installed as the chief play-maker, a role which McKinna believes he will relish.
"With Vargas going, Dimi will be the No.10," McKinna said. "He will have that spot and he can work on that rather than floating out wide. Deep down, I think that is where he wants to play."
The Jets assemble for pre-season training on July 1.
McKinna confirmed the club was in talks with an overseas striker and he was hopeful of signing another wide player.
Meanwhile, the post-Mark Rudan dismantling of the Wellington Phoenix has gone to another level, with captain Andrew Durante announcing his departure after 11 seasons ahead of a likely move to Western United FC.
The most capped player in A-League history with 313 appearances, Durante's leadership has become part of the Phoenix fabric but is joining an exodus that began when Rudan announced his departure two months ago.
Rudan, who will be the inaugural coach of Western United, has already signed Filip Kurto and Max Burgess from the Phoenix for next season.
It appears Durante, 37, will join them, spurning an offer to stay in Wellington where he had been offered an expanded off-field role.
In announcing his Phoenix departure on social media, Durante did nothing to quell reports he would join the expansion club.
"I have an opportunity to challenge myself in a new environment, to take on a new adventure with my wife and kids, closer to our family," Durante said.
"For me, life is about taking on new challenges, to test yourself in places that may make you uncomfortable, to experience new things and to grow as a person. Not everyone will agree with it, not everyone will see my view on things, but that's OK. That's football and that's life."
It marks the end of an era in Wellington, which Durante made his home after leaving the Newcastle Jets in 2008 and performed at a consistently high level for more than a decade.
His three daughters were all born in New Zealand and Durante proved his loyalty by turning out 24 times for the All Whites.
Phoenix officials couldn't be contacted after losing another battle at the negotiating table, having bid farewell last month to star forward and Johnny Warren Medal winner Roy Krishna.
On Tuesday morning they confirmed the other half of their potent 2018-19 strike force, former Socceroos forward David Williams, has exited after having bagged 11 goals.
New Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay faces a hefty rebuilding job, with four visa slots to be filled and an entire front line to replace.
He can at least call on experience at the back in Durante's absence, with veteran former Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor having committed to next season and now boasting strong credentials to captain the Kiwi club.
Talay's first two signings were New Zealand international goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic and Australian teenage left-back Walter Scott.