Melbourne City waiting to discuss Ross McCormack's future with Aston Villa
Could Melbourne City's clash with Newcastle be Ross McCormack's A-League swan song?
The Scottish striker has scored 14 goals in 16 games for City, helping the club to third on the table.
But with his injury-replacement deal for stricken captain Bruno Fornaroli soon to expire, McCormack could be forced out of the club in coming days without a solution.
"There's lots of things that have to be discussed with Aston Villa. They're his parent club and they've got a major say in what happens," coach Warren Joyce said.
Joyce says there is no Plan B yet for the striking situation, given the club doesn't have a senior back-up, and Fornaroli isn't expected back until March at the earliest.
"We'll look at that when and if. At the moment, we're looking to get Ross at the club and ... and doing all we can to do that," he said.
"There's still time left in the [transfer] window to see if we can do whatever."
Even if McCormack does sign on, the dream pairing of Fornaroli and McCormack won't be possible for another month as Fornaroli continues his rehabilitation from a serious ankle injury.
"He's worked tremendously hard ... he's desperate to be involved," Joyce said of his captain.
"Ten days ago, there was a little hiccup and he was down and frustrated. Then the last few days, he's upped it a bit. It's normal."
The departure this week of Neil Kilkenny, who is expected to join Perth, frees up salary-cap space for a potential deal.
Kilkenny's sidelining was one of the most-peculiar parts of Joyce's tenure to date, but the Englishman insisted there was nothing odd about him overlooking the reigning club champion through this campaign.
"He started the season and I think he played every preseason game and found himself out of the team through injury, going into the start of the season when we won the first four games. That's about it, really," Joyce said.
"It's great he played well last season but it's immaterial. Two weeks ago is immaterial in football.
"Every player has got to be pushing himself every day to get consistency."
Joyce said injured youngster Nathaniel Atkinson was looking at a minimum month out after ligament damage in last week's 5-0 win over Adelaide.
That injury -- and Bart Schenkeveld's suspension -- means he must juggle his team against the Jets, with Ruon Tongyik, Manny Muscat and Harrison Delbridge listed as replacements for the Dutchman at centre-back.
Stefan Mauk and Bruce Kamau are also available.
With a win, City would close the gap to Newcastle to one point but Joyce said he wouldn't be using that as a focal point for his team.
"If you're just motivated by that, it's the wrong reasons. You've got to be motivated by the bigger picture," he said.
STATS THAT MATTER
- City are on a two-game winning streak against the Jets, including a last-out 2-1 win at McDonald Jones Stadium.
- Should Nick Fitzgerald play, he'll make his 100th A-League appearance.
- McCormack has seven goals this year -- three more than any other player.