THE Central Coast Mariners and Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan will board a flight to Britain on Monday for a 10-day trial with the Scottish club Rangers.
Ryan has been invited to train with the fallen giants of Scottish football, with a view to joining them permanently next season.
Ryan, 20, is off contract at the end of the A-League season and, pending the outcome of the trial under the watchful eyes of Rangers coach Ally McCoist, he may sign as a free agent in September.
Rangers were relegated to the fourth tier of Scottish football after going into liquidation last year and were subsequently slapped with a transfer ban, which ends on September 1. Ryan could then become one of the club's first signings in their long march back to the top flight.
The Mariners' director of football, Lawrie McKinna, met McCoist, while on holiday in Scotland, in December to discuss a move for Ryan. ''McCoist contacted [me] a few weeks before I was there, saying Rangers are interested,'' McKinna said.
''They're quite keen to get him over there for a trial. They can't sign players until September and Mat's one that has been recommended to them.''
Ryan has attracted the interest of several European clubs and has already received a bid from the English Championship club Hull City.
Mariners fans have voiced their concerns on social media about their star player going on trial with a club in the Scottish third division. McKinna said the final decision was up to Ryan.
''OK, the club spoke to Rangers and that's that, and Mat said he'd like to go,'' McKinna said. ''We don't just send players overseas; that's up to the players and their agents. We thought it was a good opportunity for Mat to go over there.''
Rangers are hoping to fast track their promotion back to the Premier League as part of the Scottish Football Association's restructuring plans. Many of the top-flight clubs have agreed to provisional plans for the ''24-18'' model, which could provide an opportunity for Rangers to be readmitted to the higher tiers.
If it goes ahead, the young Australian goalkeeper will have a chance to cement a role between the posts of a giant club on the rise after playing a part in the Mariners' bid to clinch their first A-League title.
''At the moment they can't sign players and we are obviously keen to keep Mat until the end of the season,'' McKinna said.
''This way he can see out his contract with us and … we want to extend his contract but obviously Mat's got aspirations to go overseas.
''It's up to them to decide the first team squad; obviously he's got a chance to be in the first team squad.''
Meanwhile, Tom Rogic is likely to remain a Mariner for the rest of the A-League season after his proposed move to the English Premier League club Reading collapsed.
His agent, Andrew Bernal, confirmed that Rogic has opted to stay at Bluetongue Stadium instead of the Madejski and will reassess his future at the end of the A-League season.
The 20-year-old Socceroo is in the last year of his deal with the Mariners and will be able to move for free in the off-season. Other European clubs have signalled their interest in signing Rogic but, as of yet, no other offers have been tabled to the Mariners.
''No, there's nothing. There's been a bit of interest from some teams in England; there's rumours of some other European clubs, but as such there's a lot of speculation,'' McKinna said. ''There's nothing concrete but at the moment, Tom Rogic is staying with the Mariners until something concrete comes up.''