Glory want Socceroo to replace Nikita

January 26, 2009
By Justin Chadwick

Perth Glory will target a current Socceroos player to fill their marquee position next A-League season after losing the services of star striker Nikita Rukavytsya to Dutch first division side FC Twente.

Rukavytsya, who was contracted to the Glory until the end of 2009/10, became Australia's latest soccer export when Perth accepted the six-figure transfer deal tabled by FC Twente.

Perth chief executive Scott Gooch said the club would use the money towards player recruitment -- with an overseas-based Socceroo their No. 1 target.

"We are already speaking with a number of agents around the world and if we can identify a Socceroo that is willing to come back to Australia or another international we will certainly be pursuing that," Gooch said.

"If we talk about a Socceroo coming back to Australia they are certainly going to be under the nose of the national coach."

When asked whether Mile Sterjovski, who currently plays for English Championship outfit Derby, was a chance to join the Glory, Gooch replied: "We'd love to think someone of that calibre or another Socceroo would be in a position to look at coming back to the A-League.

"The perfect example of that is Jason Culina at the Gold Coast.

"He's a fantastic player, a fantastic Socceroo and it's a significant step for the A-League to get a player of that quality back into our competition."

Gooch said the club would also target a prolific striker to replace Rukavytsya, who bagged 10 goals for the Glory this season.

"It's significant for us that Eugene Dadi stayed on board," Gooch said.

"Nikita will be difficult to replace.

"We will be in the market for another striker but also it's an opportunity for guys within our Youth League squad to step up to the mark."

Rukavytsya left Perth on Monday night to link up with FC Twente, who are managed by former England boss Steve McClaren and currently sit third on the table.

"Nikita is a fantastic kid and has a huge career ahead of him," Glory coach Dave Mitchell said.

"He works hard and has the talent and desire to make it in Europe.

"The Dutch league will suit him very well and I look forward to seeing his progress and hope he is given the opportunity to play and show what he is capable of producing on the football pitch."

Perth finished seventh on the table this season and are yet to reach the finals since the inception of the A-League.