Wanderers prowl for foreign players
Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic expects to begin filling up to five foreign player spots on his roster soon as he continues to build the fledgling A-League squad.
The Wanderers have officially signed nine players ahead of their inaugural season, which begins on October 6 against Central Coast.
They include former Melbourne Victory goalkeeper Ante Covic, ex-Newcastle Jets striker Labinot Haliti, Mark Bridge from Sydney FC and veteran Michael Beauchamp.
But Popovic is in no doubt his team will also include international recruits.
“We’re definitely going to be bringing in visa players,” Popovic told AAP on Thursday after a wet training session at Blacktown.
“We’re speaking to a lot of players around Europe and South America, we’re working through that process and trying to bring a few players out on trial as well.”
The former Socceroos defender said while it was an added bonus that some of his early signings were from western Sydney, his focus was on sourcing quality – even if that means using the maximum number of foreign recruits allowed by Football Federation Australia.
“If we feel that that five visa players will improve the quality of our team, we’ll bring them in,” Popovic said.
“If we feel they won’t, then we’ll limit it to one or two.”
The Wanderers’ coach is hoping to have a decent squad by mid-August but is in no rush to sign players just to make up the numbers.
“I want to take my time with it and make sure that they’re the right player and the right character for this club,” Popovic said.
“That obviously means it takes more time to get that, but I’ll be quite pleased with the number we’ll have in about a month’s time.”
Former Newcastle captain Tarek Elrich, one of the club’s earliest recruits, said confidence among his teammates was high and praised Popovic for the team he’s assembled to date.
“I think he’s done a great job so far,” Elrich said.
“We’ve got plenty of experience and, with the young guys coming through, it’s very exciting for the club.
“I’m sure Poppa’s got a few more players to come in and, with those players coming in, I think it’s going to make us stronger.”
Despite the pressure of being the A-League’s newest franchise, Elrich is confident the team will be competitive from game one.
“We’re going for the No.1 spot and hopefully we can get some silverware at the end of it,” he said.© AAP 2013
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