Phoenix might sign Hogg to replace Pavlovic

SAM WORTHINGTON AND AAP
Last updated 05:00 02/01/2013

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The Wellington Phoenix are close to signing a replacement for departed striker Mirjan Pavlovic, with All Whites left back Ian Hogg one of the names in the mix.

The Phoenix are required to sign a player during the A-League's January transfer window to meet the minimum squad size of 20.

Pavlovic's contract was terminated by mutual consent in November and the Phoenix are talking to a handful of players with an announcement likely within a week.

Hogg, 23, signed with Major League Soccer club Portland Timbers in August but was released three months later after failing to make a first-team appearance.

He played four games for New Zealand last year and would offer an alternative to Tony Lochhead, 30, who has not been at his best this season.

The Phoenix can only sign Kiwi or Australian players, with their import quota of five already reached.

The transfer window shapes as make or break for a host of clubs, with several title heavyweights facing the prospect of losing their top talent overseas.

The opening of the transfer period yesterday represents a chance for clubs to give their squads a mid-season boost but overseas clubs are also circling some of the league's best players.

Central Coast young guns Tom Rogic and Mat Ryan are being lined up by European clubs while the form of New Zealand's Melbourne Victory maestro Marco Rojas has increased his chances of a mid-season move abroad.

Exciting Socceroos attacker Rogic is reportedly attracting interest from Italy and England, including Premier League side Reading which tried to sign him last year before visa issues meant the move collapsed.

Goalkeeper Ryan has also attracted interest from England and Mariners coach Graham Arnold admits his table-topping club may have to sell the players if the price is right.

During the last campaign Mariners lost Matt Simon and Rostyn Griffiths to Asian clubs

"The January transfer window is always a nervous time for coaches, and it's no different here, especially when you've got top young kids that are doing what they are doing," Arnold said.

"At this moment I'd say it's about 75-25 that he (Rogic) will stay. There hasn't been a 100 per cent confirmation of an offer. I read where the CEO of Reading, Nick Hammond, has come out and said they were interested, because they've seen Tommy before. Tommy has been over there, after he won the Nike Challenge, they are the club that wanted to sign him, so they know what Tommy is about. But until something is official, he's a Mariners player."

Victory coach Ange Postecoglou hopes Rojas remains in Australia for one more season but, with the 21-year-old off contract at season's end, the club may find it hard to knock back a good financial offer for the exciting winger.

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Brisbane's Erik Paartalu, Western Sydney's Aaron Mooy, Newcastle's Craig Goodwin and Melbourne Heart's Aziz Behich are other players with the potential to attract interest from overseas.

The arrival of superstar David Beckham looks increasingly unlikely but there should still be a host of new arrivals to the league.

- The Dominion Post

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