Michael McGlinchey is one step closer to joining the Wellington Phoenix with the midfielder to start training with the A-League club from Monday while negotiations continue to resolve the contract dispute with Central Coast Mariners.
McGlinchey has been on holiday in Wellington since his loan spell at Japanese club Vegalta Sendai ended in May.
The Wellington-born player believed he was a free agent having been released by the J-League club and indicated his desire to join the Phoenix rather than return to the Mariners.
But Central Coast have so far insisted that he is still contracted to them for the 2014-15 season, leaving the player and the Phoenix in limbo.
Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick sees McGlinchey as the ideal replacement for playmaker Carlos Hernandez.
But following an embarrassing "administrative error" which saw the premature announcement of McGlinchey's signing to the Phoenix, Merrick has refused to comment on the situation while negotiations are ongoing.
The Phoenix coach has though been far more effusive about other off-season recruits Alex Gorrin and Nathan Burns.
Gorrin's fitness has impressed Merrick, who described the young Spaniard as the "best trainer in the team".
But it is his work on the pitch alongside Vince Lia and last year's player of the year, Albert Riera, which has Merrick upbeat.
"We were very careful to select a ball-passing, ball-winning midfielder who could fill in for Albert when needed and when Albert is available play alongside him... and we go exactly what we wanted," Merrick said of Gorrin.
"I don't think he is the finished article yet. He's only just turned 21 but I'd say he's a great prospect for the future.
"He took a gamble in coming here and not going to the English Championship where he would have got more money and maybe more profile.
"He came here to grow with a team and get first-team football and I think he's very happy that he made that decision."
Burns had his first session in the gym with the team on Friday and looked in good shape. Merrick is certainly confident he can bring some attacking spark to the front third alongside Tyler Boyd, Jeremy Brockie and Kenny Cunningham.
"Nathan was touted as one of the best up-and-coming players to come through the institute system in Australia and he's represented Australia at every level so I think we've got a special player in him," Merrick said.
"This is the fourth attempt (at signing him) and I got him so I'm pretty persistent when it comes to targeting a player that I want to sign."
Still on Merrick's wish-list is a defensive player who can play anywhere across the back line.comments