Melbourne City coach Warren Joyce has hinted at potential activity in the January transfer window, but remains tight-lipped about the future of out-of-favour striker Bruno Fornaroli.
Joyce said the club would be "looking at what they can do" in the window, which opens on January 3 and ends at the close of the month.
Ahead of Citys game against the struggling Western Sydney Wanderers on New Years Day, Joyce wasnt keen to shed further light on the situation regarding his marquee striker, who hasn't featured in almost two months.
City have put in solid performances in Fornarolis absence, with Joyce hailing the first half of last Saturdays derby as arguably Citys strongest half of the season in an attacking sense.
Hopes of a ceasefire between Fornaroli and Joyce were not furthered by the coach, after his captain Scott Jamieson flagged a potential thawing of tensions.
Speaking following last weekends 1-1 draw with Melbourne Victory, Jamieson said he hoped he could sit down with Joyce and Fornaroli to "try to work something out for the positive of the football club," in comments reported by AAP.
If the impasse isn't broken, its likely City will aim to offload the Uruguayan to make space in their squad for a new No.9, with stand-in striker Lachlan Wales – a 21-year old who generally plays in one of the positions behind the striker – not considered a long-term solution.
Fornaroli's absence may be countered by the presence of the fit-again Michael OHalloran. The ex-Rangers Scottish import, on a two-year deal at City, has looked lively off the bench, and is more suited to playing as a traditional marksman.
Another player looking to feature more prominently in Joyces attacking plans is winger Ramy Najjarine. The 18-year old – who was robbed of playing time last season after undergoing a shoulder reconstruction – has enjoyed long cameos off the bench in Citys recent fixtures, but is keen on more playing time according to Joyce.
"He wants to be more than an off-the-bench player, which is what you want," said Joyce, who hoped Najjarine could have a similar impact to Daniel Arzani, who similarly begun his professional career with short bursts from the bench, eventually graduating to a starting role and earning a switch to Scottish giants Celtic.
City face the Wanderers on Tuesday, the first of a seven-game stretch in January, a period Joyce said was "vital" to their season.
On the injury front, Ritchie De Laet spent the week training more intensely than he has in previous weeks.
Joyce praised the former Manchester United full-backs performances whilst not taking part in mid-week training: "Its never easy if youre not training fully during the week and turning up on a Saturday."
City return to Melbourne after their game against the Wanderers to face the Newcastle Jets at AAMI Park on Sunday evening.
Paul is a reporter for The Age.
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