Mariners ready for the real deal

Its pre-season may have only been relatively short but Central Coast coach Lawrie McKenna is already itching to kick off the Hyundai A-League season.

Its pre-season may have only been relatively short but Central Coast coach Lawrie McKenna is already itching to kick off the Hyundai A-League season.

The Mariners take on defending champions Melbourne Victory in their first match at Etihad Stadium next Thursday.

After making four key off-season signings, two of those with experience in the English and Scottish premier leagues, and one other in the English Championship, McKinna believes his squad has both the experience and depth needed to succeed over what is an extended 27-round format.

Former Nottingham Forest and Northampton Town hardman Chris Doig, ex-Celtic midfielder Michael McGlinchey, Sheffield United academy product Nicky Travis, and star of the inaugural National Youth League campaign Matthew Lewis have all signed on to join the charge for the 2009/10 season.

"It's been a great pre-season because it's only gone for five weeks! The boys have enjoyed it, and I've enjoyed it. We've done well, our preparation has been good, and the boys are looking good for Thursday night, so this next week is just going to fly by," said McKinna.

"Opening the league is always special. I'm sure the Melbourne fans will be noisy, and giving us plenty of stick, but hopefully we can give themselves some of their own medicine on Thursday night." Hot on the heels of announcing McGlinchey's arrival on the Coast, the club confirmed the signing of Travis to a one-year deal on Saturday.

"Nicky is a fantastic young player and will bring a lot of experience with him, following his apprenticeship with our sister club Sheffield United," McKinna said.