JAMES Virgili thought he had done enough to earn an extra year at the Jets.
Before breaking his ankle when changing direction in a training game on January 27, the 22-year-old had strung together four consecutive starting appearances, beginning with a starring effort in the 2-1 round-11 win over Adelaide.
The injury ended a promising 2015 season for the home-grown winger, who had been in and out of the Jets line-up since becoming the then-youngest A-League player at 16 years and 180 days in January 2009.
On Tuesday afternoon, Virgili was devastated to find out it was not enough.
The 57-game Jet joined Taylor Regan, Sam Gallagher and trainee goalkeeper John Solari as players not offered new deals at Newcastle.
Virgili said he ‘‘was definitely hopeful’’ the club would extend his stay given his form before the season-ending injury.
‘‘I had a nice little run there of four starts and I thought I was playing pretty good during that period, then unfortunately my injury came,’’ Virgili said.
‘‘When it came I was hopeful, even though I didn’t get to play much this year, that the times I did play this season, I’d done enough to earn an extra year.’’
The Herald was told a frustrated Virgili fronted Jets coach Phil Stubbinsthree times in the second half of the season to ask for clarity on his future, given he could do no more on the field to push his claims.
The Herald understands he was given no indication before Tuesday that there was nothing on the table for him.
‘‘The last few months I have been trying to find out where my future was, but the meetings weren’t handled too well,’’ Virgili said. ‘‘But there’s not much I could do about that. I’ve just got to look forward now and hopefully move on to good things.’’
The former Australian under-17 and under-20 representative hopes to complete his radiography degree at the University of Newcastle next year but said he was ‘‘still hungry’’ to further his A-League career.
Asian club champions Western Sydney Wanderers are believed to be one of the ‘‘few clubs’’ Virgili said had shown early interest in him.
‘‘There hasn’t been any offers as yet,’’ Virgili said.
‘‘I’m hopeful out of the places who have shown a bit of interest that something will eventuate. Who knows, sometimes a change can be the best thing for you.’’
The South Wallsend junior was ‘‘obviously pretty disappointed’’ when finally told he was not in the Jets’ plans.
‘‘It was always my dream to play for the Jets, and I’m grateful for that opportunity and always will be.
‘‘It’s obviously tough. You can’t really beat playing for your home town and being at home with your family and friends watching. It definitely makes it extra disappointing.’’
Virgili is yet to score an A-League goal but has started in just 22 of his 57 appearances for Newcastle.
He said he obviously would have liked to score goals for the Jets but added that he was otherwise ‘‘quite happy with how I’ve performed during my time at the club’’.
He believed he had more to offer at A-League level if given regular game time.
‘‘It definitely plays on your mind a bit when you’re in and out of the team for so long,’’ he said. ‘‘But the times I was in the squad for a more than a few weeks, I thought at those times was when I played my best football and I was most consistent.’’