No wandering for Haliti as Popovic swoops

WESTERN Sydney have handed striker Labinot Haliti a new two-year deal as coach Tony Popovic continues to lock away members of his Premiers' Plate-winning squad for the long-term.

Haliti, who made some key contributions in the Wanderers' success last season, signed a contract extension with the club on Monday which keeps him at 'Wanderland' until the end of the 2015/16 season.

It's a just reward for the versatile 28-year-old and he admits he had no hesitation in signing despite interest from other A-League sides.

"I've grown up here, the club's given me everything so there's nowhere else I want to be," Haliti said on Monday.

"I'm very grateful. Obviously we're building something special here and I want to be a part of it.

"I just try to do the right things on and off the field and every time I'm called up I try and do a job for the team and the team is the most important thing."

Popovic added: "Labinot was one of the first players signed at this club and he's a player that epitomise what this club is about.

"He loves the area, he lives in the area and he puts his heart and soul into this football club and you see that in every day that he trains and every game that he plays.

"We love him at this club and we're delighted that he's staying."

Popovic will now turn his attention to re-signing attacking stars Youssouf Hersi and Shinji Ono.

The influential duo are both off-contract and have garnered interest from clubs both in Australia and abroad.

It's understood Hersi, who has expressed a desire to remain out west, is after a two-year deal at the Wanderers with cross-town rivals Sydney FC reportedly ready to swoop if talks break down.

Asked if he was feeling pressure to get the pair signed on quickly, Popovic said: "No. You expect other clubs to be interested in those type of players.

"They're great players.

"But we're comfortable with where we're at with both players at this present stage."

The Wanderers head into this weekend's clash with Newcastle on the back of a three-game winless run, their worst run of form since the start of last season.

Popovic is hopeful of having attacker Brendan Santalab available for the trip to Hunter Stadium but young striker Toni Juric (knee) is likely to sit out another week.