A-League-bound Macarthur FC haven’t given up hope of making former Socceroos skipper Mile Jedinak their inaugural marquee signing - but admit it may be a long-shot.
A free agent after this week being released by Aston Villa following their promotion to the Premier League, the veteran midfielder is on the lookout for a new club.
But with the Campbelltown-based Bulls not entering the A-League until 2020-2021, Jedinak’s possible capture remains shrouded in uncertainty.
“The year delay doesn’t help us ... I’m not sure where he will be next season,” admitted Macarthur’s football director Sam Krslovic, who has known Jedinak since the former Central Coast, Genclerbirligi and Crystal Palace linchpin was a teenager.
“As things stand it’s probably more improbable than probable.
“It’s a challenging scenario for us but you never give up hope.
“If things were to fall into place he’s somebody we’d love to have at the club as a leader and an inspiration.”
It would be a romantic homecoming for Jedinak, who grew up in south western Sydney, and on Monday night was a special guest at training session with the next generation of youngsters at his former club Sydney United.
Jedinak was teammate of inaugural Bulls coach Ante Milicic at former NSL powerhouse and the pair’s association continued with the national team with 79-cap Jedinak captaining the Socceroos under Ange Postecoglou whilst Milicic, 45, was his assistant.
Krslovic, a former board member at Sydney United where Jedinak spent eight years, is hoping their long friendship might ultimately prove decisive.
“Mile came to Sydney as a 13-year-old and when he made his first grade debut I was on the board,” he recalled.
“He was aged about 16 at the time and we’ve had a very good relationship both personally and professionally over the years.”
Jedinak, who turns 35 in August, will have offers to remain in Europe, as he ponders his next immediate step after three years and 80 appearances for Villa.
Villa sealed their return to the top-flight with a play-off final win over Derby County at Wembley where Jedinak was an unused substitute in his last squad appearance for the club.
He was largely on the periphery under Dean Smith last season, making just 18 league appearances.
His final kick for the club saw him drive home a penalty in a semi-final shootout victory over West Bromwich Albion.
Whilst he remains high on the Bulls’ wish list the expansion club are, according to Krslovic, also seeking to repatriate a number of other overseas-based Australians.
“We can’t sign any players until January 1, 2020 but we can start taking to them talking them on December 1 2019 officially,” he said.
“We have a target list of players and are more focused on Australian players both here and abroad.
“There are a lot of different scenarios which can play out but enticing players home is going to be a big part of our strategy.
“Ante Milicic (currently otherwise engaged with the Matildas) knows the players who are abroad and his ideas on those he wants to bring in. As a club we fully support that.”
Whilst Milicic’s targets - other than Jedinak - remain a mystery, he may be monitoring the likes of Millwall’s Socceroos defender James Meredith, uncontracted Socceroo Ryan Mcgowan, Croatia-based Steven Lustica, former Socceroo James Holland, Sparta Prague’s Golgol Mebrahtu, Maccabi Haifa’s Nikita Rukavytsya and Saudi-based Socceroos Rhys williams and Matt Jurman.
“The make-up of the squad will determine what type of system we end up playing,” added Krslovic.
“Ante was a striker during his playing days and I think that may indicate the sort of style he wants to play.”