Western United are confident of resolving a standoff with unsettled attacking midfielder Max Burgess, who has yet to report back for pre-season training.
The former Sydney FC junior - who has a season left on his contract - has been absent without leave for the past nine days, remaining at his family home in the Harbour City whilst the club and his agent discuss his future.
A revelation for United in the second half of last season, the former Wellington Phoenix and Newcastle Jets prospect has become disenchanted at United and has been reluctant to return to Victoria - which is slowly emerging for a government-mandated lockdown.
However, United chief executive Chris Pehlivanis is looking to resolve a delicate issue amicably and bring Burgess - who struck six goals last season - back into the fold.
"Max is a contracted and required player and hopefully, we can find a resolution very quickly and he can begin training very soon,” said Pehlivanis.
A free Burgess would attract a raft of A-League offers, and possibly foreign interest, but United appear unlikely to yield to any requests to terminate his contract, viewing him as a key part of coach Mark Rudan’s quest to build on their debut campaign with another finals appearance in 2020-2021.
Club sources say the relationship with Burgess is not broken, and there’s no rancour between either party.
However, they are unwilling to set what they consider a precedent by simply releasing a restless player without compensation, instead preferring to “work with him” to solve the impasse.
Burgess’ representative, James Hardy, said: “At this moment I would like to refrain from making comments on the matter, as both Max and I would prefer to resolve the matter directly with the club."
“However, Max certainly has rights as a working footballer, which must be respected."
“He has acted in good faith and communicated his stance genuinely and respectfully with club officials.”