The transfer window is closed but with A-League sides able to pick up National Premier League players at will the opportunity is there for state league recruits to plug any potential gaps for the remainder of the campaign.

And with seven of the A-League’s 10 clubs having VISA spots open on their rosters now is as good a time as any for some of the NPL’s foreign stars to get a shot in the top tier of Australian football.

Adelaide United – Zac Cairncross (Blacktown City)

Ben Warland’s departure to Sydney FC coupled with the injury troubles faced by both Ersam Gulum and Taylor Regan means reinforcements in the centre of defence would be a welcome addition to the South Australian outfit. Zac Cairncross has been a hallmark at the back for a Blacktown City side who has finished as one of the NPL NSW’s top two defensive sides in each of the past three seasons. The no-nonsense defender previously had stints at Sydney FC and Central Coast Mariners and wouldn’t be out of place in a workman-like Adelaide side which Marco Kurz has built around the rugged qualities that Cairncross possesses.

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Brisbane Roar – Dylan Wenzel-Halls (Western Pride)

While individually Roar’s forward pack of Massimo Maccarone, Eric Bautheac, Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Brett Holman all possess undoubted quality they carry an average age of 34. The spark and energy that comes with a young player would be a welcome addition to the Roar’s attack. Dylan Wenzel-Halls who was previously a youth player at the Roar combination of pace, trickery and an eye for goal saw him lead NPL Queensland surprise packet Western Pride to a grand final win in 2017. The 20 year old scored 17 goals in 18 appearances last season including a last minute match winning free-kick in the grand final. That’s more NPL goals in the 2017 season than Rahmat Akbari (5) and Daniel Leck (1) combined.

Central Coast Mariners – Mitch Mallia (Blacktown City)

The league’s lowest scoring side are crying out for a goal scorer, a paltry 19 goals in as many games has been the main reason for Central Coast’s struggles this season. The club have failed to replace the prolific Roy O’Donovan and despite Asdrubal starting strongly things didn’t quite work out and the Spanish striker has since departed. Blacktown’s Mitch Mallia has shown his ability to contribute in attacking areas at A-League level. Equally adept through the middle or out wide Mallia chipped in with a goal and an assist despite only making one start in an injury replacement stint at Perth Glory earlier this season. The 25-year-old has been a regular amongst the goal scorers at Blacktown in recent years where he won two NPL NSW championships.

Melbourne City – Sam Smith (Port Melbourne)

With Ross McCormack’s loan not being extended at City and Fornaroli yet to return from an ankle injury sustained in August 2017 City are left a bit light on numbers up front. While Marcin Budzinski has performed admirably up front in recent weeks the Pole is better suited to a midfield role. Add to this the fact that only four players currently at the club have found the net on more than one occasion this season and it’s clear to see City desperately need to add another goal scorer.

One man who’s had no trouble finding the net in the second tier is Englishman Sam Smith who’s just signed with Port Melbourne following a mutual termination of his contract at South Melbourne. Smith arrived in Australia last season after playing with the likes of Rushden and Diamonds, Lincoln City and Woking in the UK and burst onto the scene netting 22 times for Gold Coast City and claiming the NPL Queensland golden boot in a side that qualified for the FFA Cup quarter finals. Would count as a VISA player but a move City who currently only have three foreigners on their books would be possible.

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Melbourne Victory – Hiroki Omori (Brisbane Strikers)

The marauding fullback who scored seven goals in 2017 and helped Brisbane Strikers to a premiership and national NPL final could be a solid option at left back for Melbourne Victory for whom the spot has been somewhat problematic this season. The Japanese defender has previously trialed at Brisbane Roar and could be used as an AFC +1 in the Champions League and allow Leigh Broxham a return to midfield following the departure of Mark Milligan.

 

Keep an eye out next week when we reveal the five other NPL stars your club needs.

 

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Currently studying a Bachelor of Digital Media and Communication at Southern Cross University, Thibault is a digital content editor at Gold Coast City and works as a football correspondent for APN Newspapers. Olympique Lyon and Socceroos fan, passionate about the growth of football in Australia.