The Wellington Phoenix are poised to land a perfect replacement for Carlos Hernandez, with All Whites midfielder Michael McGlinchey close to signing with his hometown club.
While no-one at the Phoenix is commenting, it is understood an offer has been made and McGlinchey is keen on joining Ernie Merrick's side.
The completion of a deal hinges on McGlinchey being able to negotiate a release from his contract with the Central Coast Mariners.
The 27-year-old is currently on loan with J-League club Vegalta Sendai but has been struggling for gametime in Japan.
It is believed Vegalta are willing to release him early from his loan spell, leaving McGlinchey to then seek the same with the Mariners, for whom he has played 121 games since signing in 2009.
There is optimism this can be achieved and, if so, it will give Merrick and the Phoenix a big boost heading into the 2014-15 season.
After releasing Hernandez last month, Merrick said McGlinchey, one of the A-League's best, most consistent midfielders, was the type of player he was looking for.
"I have spoken with several very good players who, the chances of getting, are probably 80 per cent against us and 20 per cent for. But unless you're in it you're never going to win it. I won't confirm McGlinchey but that's the sort of quality of player we're looking for."
If the deal goes through, McGlinchey would probably fill Hernandez's No 10 role.
He played wide in a midfield diamond with the Mariners but has the skill, vision and work rate to play a variety of roles.
The high-intensity pressing game that Merrick wants to implement would also be enhanced by McGlinchey replacing the less mobile Hernandez.
McGlinchey was born in Wellington where father Norrie played for Stop Out and Hutt Valley United before moving to Scotland when he was one.
He represented Scotland at age-group level before pledging his allegiance to New Zealand ahead of the 2010 World Cup.
The Phoenix kick off their pre-season work today with players reporting for medical and fitness testing.
Merrick still has five roster spots available, including an import slot which, should McGlinchey sign, will probably be reserved for a striker.
Meanwhile, Hernandez will not be going to a second World Cup after he was cut from Costa Rica's squad on Saturday.
Hernandez, who played at the 2006 World Cup, was one of three players cut as coach Jorge Luis Pinto unveiled his 23-man roster for Brazil.
- The Dominion Post
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