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 By AAP

Transfer system will help 'good-quality players in the A-League' - Ernie Merrick

Ernie Merrick has reiterated the need for loans and transfers in the A-League as the Newcastle coach hunts foreign backup for his injured attacking stocks.

Irish striker Roy O'Donovan has joined Venezuelan counterpart Ronald Vargas on the long-term injury list, in a cruel blow to the Jets' high-flying campaign.

O'Donovan's three-month prognosis for a grade-three groin tear, along with the prohibition of domestic loans and transfers, leaves Merrick with no option but to look abroad before the January transfer window.

A day after A-league chief Greg O'Rourke revealed the merits of a loan system were being seriously discussed at Football Federation Australia headquarters, the coach said such a move was long overdue.

"Yes, that's the case," Merrick said. "We should be able to sell players between clubs as well because it keeps good-quality players in the A-League.

"Now, if you want to make money, you've got to sell them overseas ... I'm not sure about the salary cap either."

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Regardless, Merrick remains confident -- even considering budgetary constraints -- of recruiting two high-quality forwards to keep the second-placed Jets in their chase of leaders Sydney FC.

That would ideally occur within the next few weeks to ensure they can play when the window opens on Jan. 3.

But he wasn't fussy on positioning specifics.

"If a No. 9 becomes available, yes, we'll look at them," Merrick said.

"But if it's another type of attacking player, that would be fine -- it's the quality we're looking for rather than the position.

"If we can find two high-quality attacking-type players, there's no reason why we have to stick to any particular formation."

For now, winger Andrew Nabbout will continue to lead the line, with O'Donovan and Vargas expected back some time in March -- if at all during the regular season.

Ernie Merrick
Ernie Merrick says the A-League benefit from a transfers and loans system.

Merrick insisted O'Donovan's "extremely unlucky" groin injury, suffered on impact late in Saturday's 2-1 win over Perth, was unrelated to the minor groin strain that had kept the league's joint top-scorer out the previous three games.

Advised against surgery, he will embark on a non-invasive rehabilitation program.

Injuries have cursed Newcastle's renaissance, with defender Daniel Georgievski (knee) to sit out his third match, Saturday's clash with Adelaide, while goalkeeper Jack Duncan is still looking at several more weeks on the sidelines.

"In March, we're going to have a fantastic set-up, a lot of good players and everyone will be back," Merrick said.

"So if we get into the finals, which I'm pretty sure we will, we'll have a really strong squad.

"If anyone outside this club starts putting a line through us, that's actually good for us."

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