After searching for a club for more than six months after leaving Sydney FC at the end of last season, Milligan is set for a shock return to the A-League.

Newcastle Jets have finalised a deal for the centreback to join the club for seven weeks as a replacement player - and signed him up for next season too.

With key Jets youngsters away on Young Socceroos duties, the door was open for clubless Milligan to join on a short-term contract, but he has also now penned a deal that will take him through to 2010.

Although the stint will be a slap in the face for the ambitious youngster who had his sights set firmly on a deal in Europe, it could prove vital to his future.

After trials with clubs like Arsenal, Werder Bremen and Porto were hampered by visa issues, Milligan has fallen off the national team radar.

Manager Pim Verbeek warned Milligan he was putting his Socceroo place on hold while he was without a club.

Aside from the Olympics, Milligan has not played competitively since February.

The new deal will get him vital match practice again, plus put him back in the shop window for a move overseas.

He could potentially significantly add to his Socceroos caps which will take him nearer the vital 75 percent mark required to earn a UK visa.

His new contract is likely to have either a low or zero transfer fee option for any move overseas.

This afternoon Newcastle Jets today confirmed Mark Milligan was joining them.

“We’re delighted to have a player of Mark’s calibre joining our squad," said manager Gary van Egmond.

"I feel that he will add a significant amount to our playing group in regards to his ability and experience and he should slot straight into the team.

“It’s great to have Mark signed for now and next season also. It boosts our squad, not only in terms of personnel, but it gives a lift to those boys already here."

He added: "I think it really shows our ambition as a club and that we’re serious about our title defence, and creating a strong squad into the future.

“I’m looking forward to working with him for the duration of his time in Newcastle.”

Jets Chief Executive Officer John Tsatsimas also welcomed Milligan to the Hunter.

“We are certainly pleased to bring Mark on board,” he said. “We believe his ability and experience, particularly at international level, will be a massive boost for us as we continue our Championship defence.

“Mark is a wonderful signing for our club, we are pleased to have secured his services and believe that he will represent Newcastle with the same distinction that he has served his country.”

Milligan began training with the team this afternoon and will be formally presented his playing jersey at a media conference tomorrow.