It won't be a sexy name like Alessandro Del Piero but the Wellington Phoenix remain "reasonably confident" of landing an import striker before the club's A-League opener on October 6.
The Phoenix have Paul Ifill, Jeremy Brockie and Benjamin Totori on the books and coach Ricki Herbert has handed his bosses "specific criteria" as he looks to round out his striking stocks.
"There's no doubt about it, we are still keen on an overseas striker," Phoenix general manager David Dome said.
"We haven't given up on that. Ricki's fairly specific on what he wants so we're keeping our eyes open for a striker that meets that criteria. And if one comes along, and we think he's good value, then we will have a look at it."
Brockie's versatility and strong pre-season form in India had given the Phoenix confidence they were in good shape if the import striker failed to materialise.
The Phoenix will also upgrade two academy players to professional under-21 contracts within "the next couple of weeks".
Dome said attacking midfielder Louis Fenton was "one of the leading contenders" but "there's no signatures on any contracts yet".
Wing Lucas Pantelis remains in Adelaide as he continues his rehabilitation from a serious knee injury.
Meanwhile, Dome said the club was on track to exceed its previous largest number of season members.
The club had 3500 members for the 2010-11 season before dipping last year.
Del Piero's impending Sydney FC debut at Westpac Stadium was an unexpected but welcome boost with the phones at club HQ running hot.
"We're already fielding calls from people that want to come over from Australia," Dome said.
"A lot of people are interested in corporate hospitality for that game because it'll be pretty unique. You don't get many players of Del Piero's quality playing in Wellington so there's no doubt we'd expect a big crowd for that."
The Phoenix will continue their pre-season with low-key training games against local club sides before stepping things up against league newcomers Western Sydney Wanderers in Christchurch on September 23.
A game against national league side Manawatu in Palmerston North on September 29 will then wrap up the preparations.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Has Home and Away jumped the shark? (spoiler)