Jeff Hendrick strongly suspects he has played his last game for Newcastle United as the door closes on his time with the Toon.
Although he still has two years to run on his Magpies deal, the midfielder has stressed the importance of getting his next move right – whether it is on loan or permanent.
That’s because the 30-year-old has rediscovered some of his best form for Ireland under Stephen Kenny, and has designs on being a central cog in the Euro 2024 wheel.
Hendrick played regularly under Steve Bruce in his early days at Newcastle, but became more and more peripheral.
And this season, he only had two appearances under his belt before Bruce was axed in late October.
And he is not in Eddie Howe’s plans having made just one substitute appearance before Christmas before spending the second half of the campaign on loan at QPR.
Hendrick only made seven starts – and three sub appearances – for the Championship club, although a hamstring injury late on, and the birth of his son, played a part.
But Hendrick knows the score.
Considering the sheer financial clout of their Saudi owners, Newcastle will be big players in the summer transfer window.
And whatever slim chance Hendrick might have had before of forcing his way into the manager’s plans are well and truly gone now with the calibre of player they can attract.
In sweltering hot Yerevan yesterday, ahead of tomorrow’s Nations League clash with Armenia, Hendrick admitted it looks like his club future lies elsewhere.
Asked if he had played his last game for Newcastle, he said: “I’d say it’s a possibility. Things can change, football is crazy like that, but it’s a strong possibility.
“I wouldn’t say I was unfortunate as I got to go to a massive club, a great club. I played a lot of games under Steve Bruce.
“It was just unfortunate last February/March I got sent off when we were starting to get going and put a few results together.
“I was out of the team and they carried on winning and picking up points.
“And that carried on this season and he was very honest with me, he said he would continue with the team that had finished the season off strongly.
“I thought I had a good pre-season but he’s the manager, he has to make decisions and I had to get on with it.”
Under Howe, Hendrick’s future with the Magpies looks particularly bleak.
They spoke a few weeks ago, but that was only so Howe could pass on the training regime for when pre-season starts on July 1.
“I don’t (think) it will be a fresh start,” said Hendrick. “Newcastle have done really well and brought some good players in.
“I can admit their midfield is very strong with the additions in January.
“I’m not doing the buying or whatever, but I’d imagine they will strengthen the whole squad again in the summer.
“For me it’s about being realistic and being prepared that I might need to go somewhere else for games.
“I’m at the age where I want to keep playing and keep going with the international side.
“And it wouldn’t be beneficial for me to hang around and do what I did at the start of the year.”
Hendrick was just relieved that Kenny showed enormous faith in him when his club managers were not.
And he continued: “The start of the year wasn’t as bad as we had so many international camps I was able to get game time in.
“I was in and around the bench and came on in one or two games, but I was only waiting two or three weeks before we came back into Ireland camp.
“But it was from the November to January window where I didn’t play for two-and-a-half months, so I knew I needed to go and play games.
“I knew I couldn’t go from November to March without getting enough game time. It would have been difficult for the manager here (Kenny) to justify playing me.”
And Hendrick would have no qualms dropping down to the Championship again if it meant a regular run of games on loan – or permanently.
“I went to the Championship in January, and it doesn’t bother me. I have played in the Premier League for five-and-a-half years and I’ve enjoyed my time.
“I’ve had some real ups and downs but the main thing is going to the right team for me, where I can play my best.
“My focus is on these games with Ireland and after that I can sit down and decide on my club future.”