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Ugarkovic signs two-year Jets extension

NZN 22/12/2016 Emma Kemp

despite interest elsewhere, Steven Ugarkovic says long-term security and a chance to develop enough to make it in Europe had made his decision to re-sign with Newcastle a no-brainer.

Ugarkovic has accepted a two-year contract extension with the Jets that will keep him at the Hunter-based club until the end of the 2018-19 campaign.

The 22-year-old's sterling contributions since arriving from Croatian side NK Osijek in January make it no surprise other clubs were after his services.

But Ugarkovic never saw his future panning out any other way.

"I was happy here at the Jets so, when this came around, it was really a no-brainer," he told AAP.

"It feels good, I'm relaxed and can now focus on football.

"It puts your head in a good space because now I know I'm settled and secure for the next two years and I don't have to worry."

While playing finals football is the most-immediate priority, the 12-time Olyroo hopes the next two years will provide a springboard back to Europe.

"My goal has always been to play in the UEFA Champions League, so I definitely want my performances here in the A-League to help take me back to Europe and perhaps one day to a club that competes in that competition," Ugarkovic said.

"But I just want to keep developing and help the Jets as much as I can.

"I would love to play in a finals series and make the grand final, and even win it - that would be amazing.

"We're in a good spot this season so we just need to stay focused, keep our heads screwed on and keep to the game plan."

Ugarkovic's retention follows that of English midfielder Wayne Brown and signals the desire of first-season coach Mark Jones to lock down his best talent for the long term.

"Other clubs were interested in Steven but he chose to stay in Newcastle and, to me, that demonstrates his commitment to the Jets," Jones said.

"He's shown a lot of potential this year and he's an extremely good athlete, and very competitive.

"But we're excited to work with him because we think we can help him become a better footballer technically."

The fifth-placed Jets host Wellington on Boxing Day at McDonald Jones Stadium.

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