Melbourne City Head Coach Warren Joyce has, once again, played a straight bat when questioned on the future of sidelined striker Bruno Fornaroli ahead of his side’s meeting with Brisbane Roar on Friday night.
Thirty-one-year-old Fornaroli has not featured for City since he was sensationally benched ahead of a clash with the Roar in round five, with it increasingly becoming apparent that the ongoing standoff between Joyce – who has the backing of City management – and Fornaroli means that the Uruguayan talisman has played his last game for the club.
Reports from the Herald Sun during the week have raised the prospect of a blockbuster “trade” between City and Perth Glory that would resolve the situation, with City sending their all-time leading goal scorer West in exchange for Irish striker Andy Keough.
Though the move would present a back down from City’s reported earlier position that they would not send Fornaroli to another A-League club, it would serve to benefit the club on multiple fronts; finally ending what has become a bitter battle between the club and one of its few icons as well as bringing in some much needed firepower up front for a side that has been starting converted midfielder Lachie Wales as a lone striker.
Joyce, nevertheless, refused to be drawn on the conjecture when speaking to the media on Thursday morning.
“Obviously, there’ll be speculation on Bruno all the way through this window,” the City gaffer said.
“I think if anything happens we’ll tell you about it but at the minute there’s nothing that I would comment on that one.
“We’re just looking at, we haven’t got space available to bring a marquee player in.
“We’re just looking at the other end of it where we’ve got a little bit of money for O’Halloran.
“So, we’re just looking at that one, trying to find someone who fits the bill in that area of the pitch who will come in under the cap.
“That’s as much as I know about it.
“I would imagine there are loads of conversations going on about Bruno, people at the football club will tell me if there’s anything concrete with any decisions to make but so far I don’t know that one.
“I wouldn’t talk about (Keogh) out of respect for them (Perth Glory).
“They’re obviously top of the league, you wouldn’t disrupt another player, another football club. You wouldn’t want it done from our players.
“I think I’ve already said that I know him so that’s not a secret. I think he’s a good player, he’s done great for them, they’re top of the league.”
City sits in the fourth position on the A-League table heading into their meeting with Roar, with the potential to equal the points tally of second and third-placed Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC with a win.
However, despite possessing the A-League’s stingiest defence, City has so far this season scored nine fewer goals than those two sides, as well as 12 less then ladder leading Perth Glory.
Though he was at pains to point out that his makeshift strike force had done an admirable job in the first months of the season, Joyce did admit that he was searching for added fire up front in the January transfer window.
“They’ve done well, a lot of kids have done tremendously well,” he said.
“We’ve put pressure on them and they’ve come on, they’ve driven the game sometimes.
“Lachie Wales, to be fair to him, has done a great job up there, not just playing there and leading the line by himself; he’s had the burden of people looking at him as well and seeing what he did.
“There’d be some looking if he fails so they can have a pop and he’s handled the pressure of that well in his first real senior season, so a lot of the players deserve a lot of the credit during that period.
“You’d like to just have over this time just fresh faces just to throw on and off.
“Perth last night were missing Keough, missing Ikonomidis and missing Ferreria and they’ve got (Brendon) Santalab, (Diego) Castro and (Joel) Chianese up front and it still looks a strong line-up. Melbourne Victory missed a few players and they didn’t look as strong as they were before.
“Everybody’s got different strengths or different areas and different players to help different positions. We just need a couple more to help us.
— Daily Football Show (@DFS_AUS) January 9, 2019
“It’s not easy.
“You ask questions all around but you’re looking for somebody who’s not at another football club or somebody that’s not wanted by another football club. They’re the market.
“You’re looking for another forward.
“It’s not like in England where you go and buy somebody… it’s not like that. You’ve got to think differently, be creative and see what’s out there.”
Another area of intrigue added to the A-League this season is the possibility of players being sent out on loan to other sides within the competition.
Though so far Daniel De Silva’s loan move from Central Coast Mariners to Sydney FC represents the only completed loan, reports have indicated that City – who possess the largest amount of junior international representatives of any A-League club stashed within their academy – have explored the possibility of sending young players out on loan in an effort to get first-team football into their legs.
Though indicating that he was open to that possibility, Joyce explained some of the issues that revolved around sending players out on loan.
“You’d certainly be open to someone getting experience in league football, but the other clubs have got to want them,” Joyce explained.
“We could think they could play in the A-League and we’d like to see them, but there’s not that many teams and everything’s got something to play for.
“So, it’s down to any managers out there who would be looking at any of our players and thinking that they could do them a job and help their cause really.
“You’d look at it and evaluate it.
“If you’ve got players in certain positions and you think there’s enough cover there and it would help one of the young players and progress him so that maybe it would benefit us in six months’ time or whatever you would look at that.
“That’s a normal kind of practice in developing young players.
“It’s harder to do over here because of the limited number of teams but certainly that’s an important part of player development.
“They’ve got to be ready for a chance in the team.
“We’ve blooded Ramy (Najjarine) and Connor (Metcalfe) recently and you want lads who are ready, and they turn one game into five, a little bit like Daniel did last year and Nathaniel as well.”
Joyce also indicated that attacker Dario Vidosic, who was a late withdrawel from the City side that defeated Newcastle last weekend, is unlikely to start against the Roar.
Marquee defender Ritchie De Laet, who has been waging an ongoing battle with injury, is a week-to-week propostiotion, but is likely to start against the Queensland side.