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The Toe Poke

Kewell quits Victory, UK club looks likely

Harry Kewell's next move may be to the English Championship after his shock exit from A-League club Melbourne Victory on Sunday.

Socceroos star Kewell says putting his family first is behind his decision to return to England and end his 10-month A-League stint.

Kewell's mother-in-law is gravely ill and the 33-year-old will resettle his English actress wife Sheree Murphy and four children close to her in the short-term.

He has almost certainly played for the last time in the A-League, and leaves the competition shorn of the highest-profile signing in its seven-year history.

Instead, Kewell is now likely to attempt to find a new club close to the family's base near Manchester in England's north.

There are reports he is already close to securing a trial with English second-tier club Blackburn Rovers.

Another side recently relegated from the Premier League, Bolton Wanderers as well as newly-promoted Yorkshire pair Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield are among several English Championship options for Kewell.

He could even find a home at a mid-to-lower end Premier League club, though a Championship side prepared to give him regular football would appear more likely.

Kewell's late-season form in the A-League has put aside any concerns about his durability, with injuries dogging his last English stint at Liverpool.

Kewell was set to sign a new two-year contract with the Victory for whom he played last season, scoring eight goals in 25 matches.

The Victory were only informed of the shock decision late on Saturday, and had been convinced until then Kewell would agree a new deal to remain at the club.

"It was one of the toughest decisions we've had to make," Kewell said in a statement issued by his management.

"I enjoyed playing for Victory and living in Melbourne, but family comes first and together we made a decision that it was best for us to remain close to our family at this time."

New coach Ange Postecoglou was saying publicly late last week he expected Kewell to remain, and that the Socceroo attacker would be an integral part of his plans.

"I was looking forward to working with him this season, but he has family matters that need his attention so while it's unfortunate, I completely understand," Postecoglou said on Sunday.

"We'd been working very hard to come to an agreement with him and we were extremely confident both parties were close to finalising the deal, but these things happen and we wish Harry and his family all the best."

Kewell's new management activated a clause to terminate his original incentive-based three-year contract at the Victory at the end of last season.

He had been linked with the new West Sydney franchise, but Kewell had maintained he was keen to play on at the Victory until this weekend's developments.

The former Leeds United, Liverpool and Galatasaray star signed with Victory amid great fanfare last August.


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