Josep Gombau says Adelaide United hope to hear from Osama Malik next week as contract negotiations continue with the prized utility player.
Malik, sidelined for up to four weeks with ankle injury, sat out the Reds' 3-1 loss to Melbourne City in the A-League on Friday.
But the 24-year-old, one of only a handful of Adelaide players out of contract at the end of the season, remains a subject of considerable interest.
Last week Michael Marrone, Isaias and Marcelo Carrusca all agreed new deals, although Nigel Boogaard has opted to leave Coopers Stadium for the Newcastle Jets.
The impending departure of the ball-playing centre-back brings ever greater scrutiny to bear on Malik's situation, with Gombau hoping for a positive development.
"Osama ... I think will say something to us next week," the Spanish coach said.
"It's important for me to keep as much players as possible, we're happy with them, they're happy with us, with the football that we are doing. The group is very close, this is important to keep the projecting working."
Another player whose Adelaide future is in doubt is fleet-footed forward Awer Mabil, who went on trial at Eredivisie champions Ajax in January.
It may still be too soon for the 19-year-old to try his luck in the big time, Gombau reiterating his belief the teenager must become a genuine A-League star before seeking to move on.
"The next aim for him is to become one of the most important players for Adelaide," he said.
"And after, if he (can) do this, he will have his opportunities to go to Europe."
As for the disappointing loss to City on Friday, Gombau acknowledged John van 't Schip's men were worthy victors after mounting a stirring second-half fight-back.
"In the second half they started better than us, were stronger than us, created more chances than us and they ... deserved to win," he said.
The Reds were without injured duo Malik and Boogaard as well as the suspended Isaias at AAMI Park, contributing to a defeat that cost them a chance to move into top spot.
"For sure this affected us a little bit but it's what we had," Gombau said.
"We tried to prepare for the game in the best possible way and it's not an excuse."comments