Perth Glory have hit a snag in their bid to sign Matias Cordoba, with the Argentine attacker experiencing delays with his visa application.
Cordoba, 28, has not yet signed with Glory and will not travel with the team for Saturday’s clash with last-placed Wellington Phoenix at Auckland’s Eden Park.
But negotiations between the two parties are ongoing and the club expects a deal to be finalised in the near future.
The former Argentinos Juniors playmaker watched Glory’s 1-0 defeat to Brisbane last week from the stands and has met his new teammates.
Cordoba is expected to form part of the solution to Glory’s attacking woes, which have seen the WA team score a league-worst 18 goals in as many games this season.
Coach Ian Ferguson said there was still a lot to be sorted through with the authorities before Cordoba pulled on a Glory shirt.
“We’re hoping that we can get the stuff sorted out and then let the powers above do their stuff and hopefully try and get the boy on board,” Ferguson said.
Cordoba might not have been included in the team this week even if he had signed and been cleared to play because he is yet to reach peak fitness.
“I think he has to do a little bit more training because he hasn’t played since November,” Ferguson said.
“But with the feedback that we’ve got we sort of knew that it would take about 10 days to two weeks to get him up to scratch.
“But first and foremost it’s all about getting the boy on board and getting the paperwork and everything else sorted out.”
Struggling Glory will again be without two star players for the Wellington clash, which they hope will be a springboard for a late-season revival.
Marquee striker Shane Smeltz will miss a second successive game with a groin problem, while captain Jacob Burns has been ruled out with a back complaint.
But Dean Heffernan (back) joined the main group at the team’s final training session in Perth this morning and will be named in the squad that travels to Auckland tomorrow.
New Zealand international Smeltz is on track to return against Melbourne Heart next week and said the other niggling injuries that had hindered his contribution to Glory’s cause earlier in the season were now well behind him.
“We’ve taken the right steps to make sure I get over it (the groin injury) quickly and hopefully I’ll be as healthy as I could be for the remaining games of the season,” Smeltz said.
“I’ve picked up a couple of little niggles this season because of my pre-season, which was full of international games like the Olympics and World Cup qualifiers.”
Smeltz rejected suggestions he would follow Billy Mehmet, Jesse Makarounas and Bas van den Brink out the door amid rumours of a move to China.
Van den Brink was the latest to leave this week when his contract was terminated by mutual consent and is set to join Indian club Churchill Brothers SC.
Ferguson said he was disappointed with the way some of his players had been targeted by agents and asked to be released from their contracts.
“I’m a bit disappointed in how this all works out because he’s still got three months to go (on his contract),” Ferguson said.
“These agents keep coming to players that are signed under contract and make these silly offers to them which the player cannot refuse.
“It upsets the whole thing. We’re in the business end of the season now and to lose players is very disappointing.”