Wellington Phoenix sign Michael McGlinchey

DEBUT: Michael McGlinchey will play his first game for the Wellington Phoenix tonight.
DEBUT: Michael McGlinchey will play his first game for the Wellington Phoenix tonight.

Wellington Phoenix goalkeeper Glen Moss has urged the Central Coast Mariners to end the Michael McGlinchey tug-of-war by respecting the player's wishes.

In the latest twist of a messy saga, Professional Footballers Australia revealed tonight that, with their backing, the 27-year-old had signed a contract with the Phoenix.

''Professional Footballers Australia can confirm that Michael McGlinchey has sought the advice of the PFA regarding his contractual status following the end of his loan period with J-League club Vegalta Sendai and the transfer of licence at the Central Coast Mariners,'' said PFA chief executive Adam Vivian.

''The advice of the PFA was that at the end of the loan period he was a free agent and therefore entitled to sign with the club of his choosing. Michael has since signed with Wellington Phoenix and is permitted to train, play and partake in all activities with the A-League club, in accordance with his contract. Neither the PFA nor Michael have received any formal correspondence from the Central Coast Mariners contrary to this advice.''

Wellington-born McGlinchey today donned Phoenix kit and looked sharp as he enjoyed his first training session at a sunny Newtown Park.

Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick views the All Whites midfielder as an ideal replacement for Carlos Hernandez.

A-League rivals Central Coast argue McGlinchey remains their man for the 2014-15 season.

But the Phoenix believe he is a free agent, having not signed a new contract following the Mariners' change of ownership last year.

Central Coast are seeking legal advice to prevent McGlinchey playing for the Phoenix, and he will not take the pitch in tomorrow's pre-season game against Upper Hutt City at Maidstone Park.

McGlinchey, who initially brought his family to Wellington on ''holiday,'' was unavailable to media today and Merrick was also reluctant to weigh in on the record.

But All Whites captain Moss made a plea for the Mariners to relax their hardline stance.

McGlinchey gave Central Coast 121 games of stellar service following his arrival in 2009 and was a key player in the Mariners' 2012-13 title run.

''I've been in similar situations myself where you want to be somewhere and it's just a matter of getting paperwork sorted,'' Moss said. 

''I don't believe in clubs forcing players to stay where they don't want to be. Hopefully, the right decision will be made and Mikey can continue his holiday. If a player wants to be somewhere then no-one should stand in his way.''

Moss said McGlinchey was coping well mentally during a stressful situation.

''He was over here on holiday and we caught up and had dinner the other night and I said 'why don't you come down and have a kick - I'm sure Ernie and the boys won't mind','' Moss quipped.

''So here he is. He's the type of guy we need, not just on the pitch but off the pitch as well. He's a good character and well liked amongst the squad so I think it's just a matter of getting paperwork sorted and hopefully Mikey can be where he wants to be. You can tell that Ernie likes him a lot so he'd fit into what Ernie wants to do and with the boys as well, which is just as important.''

Frustrated by weeks of unproductive to-ing and fro-ing behind the scenes, the Phoenix have made a calculated decision to force the issue by announcing McGlinchey's arrival.

It is understood McGlinchey has spoken directly to Mariners coach Phil Moss and informed him of his wishes.

''We'll wait and see what his contractual status is and then we'll take it from there,'' Merrick said.

''I feel like there's a player in limbo and the situation needs to be resolved.''

In other Phoenix developments today, Merrick revealed school of excellence defenders Tom Doyle and Andrew Blake were in the frame for an A-League contract after impressing at training, while the uncontracted Paul Ifill made a breakthrough in his recovery from a ruptured Achilles by running laps at Newtown Park.

''He's actually complaining about the time he got, running around the ground,'' Merrick said. 

''When he starts arguing with the physio, saying he was faster than that, I know we've got Paul Ifill back. A bit of complaining and whingeing and determination - he said the clock's wrong and that's Paul for you. We've got a visa spot available and eventually we'll have to make a decision on that.''

The Dominion Post