Newcastle's Ronald Vargas 'likely to be back for the finals' after leg break
Ronald Vargas might be back playing before the A-League season is out, with the Newcastle marquee star receiving better-than-expected news on his broken leg.
Coach Ernie Merrick said the Venezuelan attacker should be fit to return around finals time -- provided the Jets were involved, having missed the top six for the past seven seasons.
The 30-year-old went down in agony when his left leg became trapped under him after a challenge with Matt McKay in Sunday's 2-1 win over Brisbane.
The initial fear was that he had snapped both bones in his leg but only one -- the smaller fibula, not the weight-bearing tibia -- was broken.
The latest diagnosis is Vargas will miss only four to five months of action.
"He'll miss most of the season but the surgeon who spoke with me yesterday said he's very likely to be back for the finals," Merrick told reporters on Wednesday.
"He was very positive. There was no major damage to the articular surface which would have been a problem. Everything is neat, tidy and clean.
"Everything went smoothly after that horrendous injury and he's on the road to recovery now.
"He's pretty happy he can come back and he's pretty determined to come back as quickly as possible."
Vargas will be able to start rehabilitation once the pin in his leg is removed in around six weeks.
The club is also flying Vargas' parents in from Venezuela to see him.
Merrick said the mood at the Jets had noticeably lifted since the injury, which left players and coaches shaken on Sunday and triggered an outpouring of support from all corners of the A-League community.
However, Merrick said he wasn't overly optimistic of finding a suitable injury replacement for Vargas.
Despite being flooded with offers from agents, the Jets can only sign someone who had been a free agent earlier this month when the A-League transfer window closed.
Merrick said it wouldn't be easy introducing a new player to his game plan and would likely stick with what he had already.
Dimitri Petratos or Wayne Brown are the leading candidates to fill in at No.10.
"I'm confident we've got a very good squad here. I'm not concerned about it," he said.