Sydney FC have suffered a blow on the eve of the new A-League season with young forward Trent Buhagiar potentially out for the 2018-19 competition after suffering a torn ACL.
Sydney FC say no approach has been made to Ernie Merrick about replacing Graham Arnold as coach from next season, despite speculation linking the Newcastle boss to the job.
A report on Saturday suggested the defending A-League champions are prepared to offer the highly respected Merrick as much as $800,000 to pry him away from the Jets, where he is contracted until the end of 2018-19.
While it’s understood Merrick has not necessarily been ruled out, Sky Blues chief executive Danny Townsend said the 65-year-old’s unavailability made him an unlikely prospect and clarified there had been no internal discussions about making an offer.
“He’s a contracted coach so at this stage he’s not on our list,” Townsend told AAP.
“We have not spoken to a coach other than our internal candidates at this stage.”
Leading those internal candidates is assistant coach Steve Corica, who has been the heavy favourite since Arnold was confirmed as long-term Socceroos boss last week.
The 44-year-old club legend has spent more than three years deputising under Arnold and remains the best fit given the Sky Blues’ desire for continuity.
It’s understood more than 100 names will be run through the club’s criteria over the next month before a shortlist is compiled and interviews conducted in April.
Other names thrown into the rumour mill are Central Coast coach Paul Okon and Adelaide United coach Marco Kurz.
Speculation has also linked former Western Sydney boss Tony Popovic with a return to the Sky Blues though such a move is believed to be highly unlikely.
Sydney expect the majority of the squad to stay on next season and are confident of keeping marquees Milos Ninkovic and Bobo.
Decisions surrounding the futures of skipper Alex Brosque, Luke Wilkshire, David Carney and Matt Simon will likely wait until the end of the season.