Melbourne Victory have poached young Perth Glory striker Jesse Makarounas ahead of the two teams’ crunch clash at nib Stadium tomorrow night.
Makarounas, 18, made just four senior appearances for Glory despite representing Australia at underage level.
Glory coach Ian Ferguson has trumpeted a focus on youth development this season, but fringe players Makarounas, Chris Harold, Brandon O’Neill, Adrian Zahra and Ndumba Makeche have seen little game time.
Makarounas joined a growing list of Glory products who have left for rival A-League clubs in recent times, including WA products Trent Sainsbury, Eli Babalj, Julius Davies and Adam Taggart.
The news of Makarounas’ departure comes after Glory missed out on signing 21-year-old striker Francesco Stella, who had been targeted as a replacement for the departed Billy Mehmet.
Stella was unhappy about his lack of first-team action at Scottish outfit Rangers – Ferguson’s former club – and was allowed to leave.
The former South Melbourne forward opted for a return to the Victorian capital, where he signed a two-year deal with Melbourne Victory this week.
“We tried to get him but unfortunately that never materialised,” Ferguson said.
Meanwhile, Socceroos defender Michael Thwaite appears unlikely to feature for Glory in tomorrow night’s game after missing training today.
Thwaite tore his right calf muscle late last month and was initially given a 2-3 week timeframe for his return.
Glory coach Ian Ferguson was keeping his cards close to his chest ahead of what he described as a “crucial” game and said he would leave a decision on Thwaite until tomorrow.
Steve Pantelidis is the obvious replacement for Thwaite alongside Bas van den Brink, with Josh Risdon set to be recalled at right-back after being rested last week.
“We’re obviously close on Thwaite whether he’s going to be in or out, but we’ll wait and see and give him every opportunity,” Ferguson said.
“He’s been working very hard behind the scenes and getting a lot of rehab at the moment, so we’ll just wait and see how things develop with him.
“He has to get through the session that we’re going to give him and we’ll wait until tomorrow to see how he reacts to that session.
“If he feels anything at all we’ll (leave him out).
“You can leave (the decision) right up until kick-off but we’ll do it quicker than that so that everybody knows exactly what they’re doing and what we’re expecting.”