MARK BOSNICH might have enjoyed a fairytale return to the big time, but the Central Coast Mariners are not about to be rushed into offering the fallen Socceroos keeper his first professional contract in six years.
Bosnich, 36, produced a stellar performance in his comeback match in Gosford on Sunday, pulling off a string of stunning reflex saves as well as a penalty stop as the Mariners thumped Sydney FC 3-0 in a pre-season game.
The former Manchester United and Chelsea star is effectively playing for his supper - newspapers in England yesterday claimed he was declared bankrupt by the High Court in London 13 days ago.
But while Central Coast executive chairman Lyall Gorman concedes Bosnich's eye-catching comeback did him "no harm" in his quest to earn a deal, he confirmed the club was unlikely to deviate from its original intention of waiting until the end of the pre-season competition before making a decision on whether or not to offer him a contract.
"Are we in a hurry? No, not at all," Gorman said. "Mark has been aware of our intentions all along - we committed to a trial period that ends after the pre-season, and we'll see that through. We'll have another look at him in Brisbane this weekend and assess it from there. He's had an incredibly impressive start, but it's a matter of whether he can do it week-in, week-out.
"Somewhere between now and Wednesday week [the pre-season final], we'll sit down with Mark and his management and have discussions. I don't think Mark wants to jump at anything unless he knows he can deliver."
If the Mariners do offer Bosnich a deal, the options are for a seven-game guest stint, a one-year deal within the salary cap, or to make him their new marquee player - the latter being the option he prefers.
The Mariners have been busy elsewhere on the contract front, handing injury-prone striker Nik Mrdja a new two-year deal, while former youth international Pedj Bojic was yesterday signed for one year.
Meanwhile, Mariners recruit Adrian Caceres again completed a full match against Sydney FC, strengthening coach Lawrie McKinna's crusade to turn him into a 90-minute player.
Statistics don't always tell the story, but the fact file on Caceres, 26, reveals he has started fewer than half the games he has played with his previous clubs, Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory, and even then he was routinely substituted before the final whistle.
McKinna, though, is backing his new recruit to break the mould.
"I don't see him as a super-sub at all," he said. "If he's not playing well, he might be a sub, but if he's playing well he'll play.
"He's quick, he's got good feet, and he runs at defenders, and they don't like that.
"In the past we've probably been a workmanlike team, but he's not in that mould. With Ahmad [Elrich] on the other side, we've got genuine width for the first time and we intend to use it."
In other transfer news, Adelaide United have beaten Perth Glory to the punch and signed former youth international Paul Reid, who has been playing in England for Brighton and Hove Albion.