Double blow for Central Coast, Bernie Ibini returns
It's been a case one step forward and two steps back for Central Coast as the club confirmed that Michael McGlinchey will head to Graham Arnold's Vegalta Sendai.
It's been a case one step forward and two steps back for Central Coast as the club confirmed that Michael McGlinchey will head to Graham Arnold's Vegalta Sendai as forward Adam Kwasnik was ruled out for the season, with the only good news being Bernie Ibini's return on loan.
New Zealand international McGlinchey starred as the Mariners won the 2012-13 A-League championship under Arnold, who left the club in November to take over at J-League side Vegalta Sendai earlier this season.
Reports soon emerged that attacking midfielder McGlinchey had been targeted by his former coach, and it has now been confirmed that the 26-year-old will head to Japan on loan for the duration of the 2014 J-League season, which runs from March until December.
The departure of McGlinchey, who will leave after the Round 13 game at home to Melbourne Heart, is a blow to Central Coast's hopes of retaining the title.
And, in a further blow, Kwasnik has been ruled out for the season after opting for surgery on a knee cartilage problem.
"I am very disappointed, but my focus is getting back with the squad for next pre-season," he said.
"First and foremost I just want to play in the Hyundai A-League again. It will be a long process, but hopefully I can get back."
The two losses will be somewhat compensated for by the return of young striker Bernie Ibini on loan from Shanghai SIPG during the Chinese Super League off-season.
Ibini, 21, will be with the Mariners until the end of the domestic season, and will provide competition for the likes of Daniel McBreen, Mitch Duke and Matt Simon.
An effective replacement for the industrious, influential McGlinchey will be harder to come by.
"Of course it is not ideal for us to lose a player of Michael McGlinchey's quality mid-way through the season, but when an opportunity to move to a league such as the J-League presents itself, players naturally want to head abroad and test themselves," Mariners head coach Phil Moss said.
"Mikey is headed to Vegalta under Arnie (Graham Arnold) for a season and will return as a Central Coast Mariners player when the 2014 J-League season concludes."