The drawn-out Michael McGlinchey contract saga reached farcical levels yesterday as Football Federation Australia again failed to make a decision and Wellington Phoenix fans took to social media to vent their frustrations.
The All Whites midfielder is the subject of a tug of war between the Phoenix and Central Coast Mariners and while McGlinchey wants to play for the Phoenix, the Mariners are putting up a strong legal fight.
Both the Phoenix and Professional Footballers Australia had hoped a decision would be made yesterday but it didn't happen.
Instead, the independent arbitrator working on behalf of the FFA has called for further submissions from the two clubs on Monday.
The deliberation delays cast doubt over McGlinchey's participation in tomorrow's pre-season game in Taupo.
He has been named in a New Zealand select squad but NZ Football high performance director Fred de Jong said he would not take the pitch at Owen Delany Park unless select coach Neil Emblen was given the green light by Phoenix opposite Ernie Merrick.
The hashtag #FreeWeeMac was trending on Twitter yesterday as Phoenix fans urged the FFA and Mariners to respect the player's wishes and allow him to officially sign with his hometown club.
The Mariners have signed Hungarian attacking midfielder Richard Vernes and are well aware McGlinchey does not want to play for coach Phil Moss.
But the Gosford-based club has no desire to just roll over and release McGlinchey without compensation.
The Phoenix arrived in Taupo yesterday following a six-hour bus ride after the Desert Road was closed because of icy conditions, forcing a detour.
McGlinchey aside, eight Phoenix players have been named in the New Zealand selection: Glen Moss, Louis Fenton, Michael Boxall, Andrew Durante, Matthew Ridenton, Alex Rufer, Tyler Boyd and Jeremy Brockie.
''We've got a very competitive squad so I think it'll be a high-quality game where everyone will get a run,'' Merrick said.
''With [Nathan] Burns, Roly Bonevacia, [Albert] Riera back to full fitness, Alex Rodriguez and using younger players like Tyler Boyd and Louis as attacking midfielders, we're really getting a grip of that midfield. It's all about finishing now ... Getting the midfield right is crucial because I think our back four are pretty well rock solid.
"Manny Muscat was outstanding for the [A-League] All Stars and Tom Doyle just seems to get better and better every game.''
AT A GLANCE
What: New Zealand select XI v Wellington Phoenix
Where: Owen Delany Park, Taupo
When: 1.30pm tomorrow
New Zealand select XI: Glen Moss, Louis Fenton, Michael Boxall, Andrew Durante, Deklan Wynne, Matthew Ridenton, Michael McGlinchey, Alex Rufer, Joel Stevens, Tyler Boyd, Jeremy Brockie, Tamupiwa Dimario, Daniel Bowkett, Andre de Jong, Birhanu Taye, Tamati Williams
Wellington Phoenix: Lewis Italiano, Manny Muscat, Ben Sigmund, Roly Bonevacia, Tom Doyle, Albert Riera, Vince Lia, Alex Rodriguez, Kenny Cunningham, Roy Krishna, Nathan Burns, Reece Caira, Jason Hicks, Hamish Watson, Andrew Blake, Sam Copp.
- The Dominion Post
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