Wanted: Celtic midfielder Tom Rogic could be a target for the Mariners. Photo: Brendan Esposito
The season-ending injury to Central Coast Mariners attacking midfielder Marcos Flores has dealt a blow to the champions' hopes of retaining their title but if there is a silver lining, it could be in a possible return of former star Tom Rogic.
Flores ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during training this week and while the Mariners are lamenting the loss of their key creative outlet, it opens the door for them to pursue a possible loan move for Rogic as an injury replacement.
Rogic is also understood to be wanted by Graham Arnold at J-League club Vegalta Sendai, but Central Coast coach Phil Moss said that if the Socceroo was to prioritise regular game-time over wages, the Mariners could bring him back to the A-League this month.
Rogic has struggled for regular appearances at Celtic this season and has already been warned by Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou that his lack of match fitness could hinder his chances of being selected for this year's World Cup.
''If nothing works out for Tommy and he picked up the phone and said he desperately needs some games to put him back in World Cup calculations then it becomes realistic,'' Moss said. ''But if it's just chasing him, then the sort of money he's on at Celtic and the sort of money that Arnie [Graham Arnold] is no doubt throwing at him will probably put us out of the equation. It comes down to who's chasing who.''
The Mariners coach confirmed his intention to sign a player as injury cover for Flores. Former Newcastle Jets striker Ryan Griffiths remains an option but Moss said there have been no discussions yet and he will not rush into any moves.
''Obviously Ryan is looking for a gig and there's other names that have been thrown at me,'' Moss said. ''We're not a club that spends big money so anyone that's linked with the Mariners will obviously be aware with that. It's about the quality they can bring to our squad more so than the amount of money that we can afford to bring players.''
Moss will wait until after the next few games before making his first transfer as a head coach once he is given the opportunity of trialling a number of options from within the club in the now vacant attacking midfield role. Young midfielder Anthony Caceres is a chance of playing in the hole behind the strikers instead of his more regular position as a deep-lying midfielder.
''I could leave Caceres as a number six and bring a number 10 in to add depth, or if Caceres does well at 10 we could look for a number six to cover,'' Moss said. ''Whoever I bring in has to fit in on and off the field at the Mariners. We're a unique club, we have a unique dressing room and I would never jeopardise that.''
Sunday's match at home to Melbourne Heart will be the farewell game for winger Mike McGlinchey before he joins Arnold at Sendai on a year-long loan. The Mariners have already signed former striker Bernie Ibini on-loan as a replacement but Moss expects McGlinchey's departure to also lead to more game time for young winger Nick Fitzgerald.
''We've lost players every January whether it's a transfer or an injury,'' Moss said. ''It opens up opportunities for players like Nick Fitzgerald and Anthony Caceres to come in and show that it's their time. I've got so much faith in their ability and where they can go in the game that it's really exciting for me.''