Mrdja makes Melbourne move

Melbourne Victory moved swiftly to strengthen its depleted offence by signing Central Coast's Nik Mrdja on a short-term deal.

Interestingly, the striker - who is an injury replacement for Billy Celeski - will then return to the Mariners on a new one-year deal.

Mrdja's move from the Mariners, who have no chance of making the A-League finals, means he is available to play for the table-topping Victory against North Queensland at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.

Melbourne are delighted to have been able to sign a striker on such short notice, after losing Archie Thompson and Celeski to injuries recently, while Robbie Kruse has been braving through a shoulder complaint.

"This is a great opportunity for Nik to join us for the last two rounds of the Hyundai A-League season, the Finals Series and the ACL," Melbourne Victory Football Operations Manager Gary Cole said.

"While we think this is the deepest squad that we've ever had with great youth and experience, having another striking option is fantastic and gives us a really nice balance.

"The news we had yesterday about Archie was a concern and with Robbie's shoulder also a concern, we moved to sign Nik, who is big, tall, strong and quick and in very good form at the moment, having scored six goals this season."

Not all is lost for the Mariners though, as they re-signed Mrdja for next A-League season before letting the one-cap Socceroo flee for his Melbourne adventure.

“Nik has been in some terrific form for us over the past few rounds, and heading to Melbourne will help him gain valuable match fitness over the coming months, before he returns to us to begin the new campaign,” said Mariners' Executive Chairman Lyall Gorman.

Mrdja has played 17 matches so far this season, scoring six goals.

“I have been really happy with the way I have playing, but as a footballer you always want to be at the top of your game, and getting regular game time over the next few months will help me get to where I want to be," Mrdja said.

“The last Asian Champions League campaign was a great experience and I can't wait to be a part of it again, while at the same time, I'm keen to continue what I have started here at the Mariners."

In Mrdja's absence, Central Coast has moved to sign local junior Brady Smith in time for Saturday's F3 derby against Newcastle, and is in line to make his A-League debut in jersey number 24 in the remaining two matches of the current season.

Melbourne Victory also confirmed it has reached a mutual agreement to part ways with defender Steven Pace, who was originally contracted until March 31, but has been granted an early release.
Source SBS