Phoenix still hope to sign Michael McGlinchey
The Wellington Phoenix jigsaw puzzle is still missing one major piece, as talks to lure All Whites midfielder Michael McGlinchey across the Tasman drag on.
Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick views McGlinchey as the ideal replacement for Carlos Hernandez and the 27-year-old is eager to return to the city of his birth.
But his contractual status remains in dispute with the Central Coast Mariners adamant they retain the rights to the accomplished playmaker for the 2014-15 season.
McGlinchey, who believes he is a free agent, had hoped to join the Phoenix as early as next week but instead he remains in limbo as both clubs, Football Federation Australia and the Professional Footballers' Association try to resolve the standoff.
FFA were forced to apologise earlier this month after the A-League website prematurely announced news of McGlinchey signing with the Phoenix.
Finding a replacement for Hernandez is Merrick's one major remaining transfer task after landing former Socceroos attacker Nathan Burns on a two-year deal this week.
Merrick also revealed this week there would be tactical tweaks after reviewing the Phoenix's ninth-placed 2013-14 season.
"It's about pressing high but not too high," Merrick said.
"I think we got caught with our backline a little bit. It's about keeping possession in midfield and Alex Gorrin has just slotted into that midfield role that Kenny [Cunningham] was doing. Kenny's back playing high, as you saw scoring goals [at training], so there's always subtle differences.
"There won't be much change but there'll be some subtle differences because we reviewed some of the goals we conceded and we've altered a couple of areas technically."
Meanwhile, the Phoenix will play fellow A-League club Adelaide United in their first FFA Cup game.
The round of 32 draw for the newly-formed FFA Cup - a knockout modelled on England's FA Cup - was held in Sydney yesterday.
The Dominion Post