Kevin Muscat says he'd welcome Robbie Kruse back at Melbourne Victory with open arms but doesn't expect the Bayer Leverkusen forward to give up on the Bundesliga highlife anytime soon.
Kruse rose to prominence at the Big V between 2009 and 2011, earning a transfer to Fortuna Dusseldorf and then Leverkusen, while the 26-year-old has also become a key player for the Socceroos in that time.
Speaking ahead of this month's AFC Asian Cup, the former Brisbane Roar man said being in Melbourne with the national team felt like coming home and expressed his desire to end his career back in a navy blue and white shirt.
The serious knee injury he suffered 12 months ago has seen him fall down the pecking order at Leverkusen, but Kruse is unlikely to be planning a return to the A-League in the near future.
And while it's conceivable Muscat, who recently signed a long-term contract extension to remain Victory coach, could still be in the job when that time comes, the boss feels any talk of a reunion is premature.
"I'm always keeping my eye on good players," he said.
"He obviously falls into that bracket. He's carved out a very good career for himself in Europe, he's a very talented player. And he's quite a few years away from coming back and playing with us."
Victory were beaten 2-1 by Perth Glory in Geelong on Friday night, the A-League leaders stretching their advantage at the top to seven points over Muscat's men.
The coach expressed his frustration at failing to take a chance to reel in the frontrunners, but insisted his players will redouble their efforts away to Western Sydney on Tuesday in the final game before the break for the Asian Cup.
"It was an opportunity for us to close the gap, we haven't done it," he said.
"The gap now stretches out to seven points. We've got a lot of work to do. We're certainly going to give it a crack, give it a fight. We're certainly not going to give in at this stage."