Club Preview - Central Coast Mariners

We take a look at Central Coast Mariners and what we can expect during this season.

2009 hasn-t exactly been a year to right home about for the Central Coast Mariners so far. They limped into the 2009 Finals Series after failing to win a game since the New Year and then lost their two finals games fairly convincingly against Queensland Roar (now Brisbane Roar). But there was no time to rest for the Mariners squad as they prepared for their first AFC Champions League campaign. It didn-t get any better though after opening with two draws, they proceeded to lose their next four games including a 5-0 loss at home against Kawasaki Frontale.

Time to ring the changes or so inaugural coach Lawrie McKinna claimed, but it was the loss of Mile Jedinak (January) and Sasho Petrovski, prior to the AFC Champions League proved the biggest losses. But since the ACL only Andre Gumprecht, Paul O-Grady, Greg Owens and Matt Osman have departed, while Nick Rizzo was also released after he failed to impress during the ACL. Interestingly this season, McKinna for the first time has looked abroad for new players with defender Chris Doig from Northampton Town, while in recent days Sheffield United-s Nicky Travis and former Celtic player Michael McGlinchey have signed. They join Shane Huke (Dagenham & Redbridge, England) and Adam Kwasnik (Wellington Phoenix) who both signed during the ACL and have kept places in the squad. Youth League player Matt Lewis was also promoted to a full contract.

Of the exisiting squad, McKinna will no doubt be looking to Ahmed Elrich to play a prominent role this season after missing most of last season after being injured in Round 3. Matt Simon will again lead the attack and was a revelation last year in front of goals with 11, but while Dylan Macallister proved a good foil for Simon, McKinna will want more goals after only scoring four for the season. Adrian Caceres is one player that can turn a match on its head in an instant, but he needs to match his creativity with consistency and if he can do that then the Mariners will be a up there again.

Their pre-season was obviously shortened this season because of their ACL commitments and after an early win over North Queensland Fury in Rockhampton, it has mostly been a string of draws for the Mariners in July.

It-s hard to know what McKinna-s preferred starting eleven will be with the new players only here for a few weeks, but it-s going to be a tough first up game against Melbourne Victory in the season opener. The Mariners are sure to be among those challenging for the finals, but whether they make it to a third Grand Final remains to be seen.

Current Squad: Pedj BOJIC, Nigel BOOGAARD, Adrian CACERES, Andrew CLARK, David D'APUZZO, Chris DOIG, Ahmad ELRICH, Dean HEFFERNAN, Shane HUKE, John HUTCHINSON, Adam KWASNIK, Matthew LEWIS, Dylan MACALLISTER, Nik MRDJA, Bradley PORTER, Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), Matt SIMON, Danny VUKOVIC (gk) and Alex WILKINSON (c).

Re-signed: Andrew Clark (1 year), Andrew Redmayne (2 years)

In: Chris Doig (Northampton Town, England - 2 years), Shane Huke (Dagenham & Redbridge, England - 1 year), Adam Kwasnik (Wellington Phoenix - 2 years), Matthew Lewis (Central Coast Mariners NYL - 1 year), Nicky Travis (Sheffield United, England), Michael McGlinchey (Celtic, Scotland).

Out: Andre Gumprecht (released), Mile Jedinak (Genclerbirligi, Turkey), Matthew Osman (Gold Coast United). Sasho Petrovski (Newcastle Jets), Paul O'Grady (released), Greg Owens (released), Nick Rizzo (released).