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Apr 25, 2013

Sainsbury latest Mariner being targeted

Emerging defender Trent Sainsbury is the latest member of the Central Coast Mariners A-League title-winning side being targeted by overseas clubs, with at least three players possibly set to move offshore.

Sainsbury and the rest of the Mariners squad returned to Australia on Thursday following their 1-0 Asian Champions League (ACL) win over Suwon Bluewings in South Korea on Tuesday.

England's Daily Mail reported the 21-year-old central defender was set to sign with English second-level side Bolton for STG350,000 ($A523,000) while Premier League team Southampton want to trial him.

A Mariners spokesperson told AAP that Sainsbury's agent had been in contact with the two clubs, but that the reported transfer fee was "speculative and not accurate yet".

The Daily Mail last week reported interest in Sainsbury from Swiss club FC Basel - who will play EPL giants Chelsea in a Europa Cup semi-final early on Friday (AEDT).

Sainsbury has made no secret of his desire to play overseas, though on Thursday morning he gave no indication of an imminent move.

"I've had one good season. It doesn't mean I've had a great career as of yet," Perth-born Sainsbury said at Sydney Airport.

"I've still got to pay my dues, I think, and I've got to work hard and I've got a lot of ambitions, and definitely one of them will be (joining) an overseas club."

Goalkeeper Mat Ryan and striker Bernie Ibini have also been linked to overseas moves.

Ryan comes off contract in a couple of months, while Sainsbury and Ibini are contracted to the Mariners for next season.

Off the pitch, there are moves already afoot at the club.

Fairfax reported on Thursday that inaugural chief executive John McKay had been let go.

New Mariners owner Mike Charlesworth was apparently seeking a new backroom direction for the club, which has punched above its weight in terms of results but hasn't been able to grow crowds or revenues to the level it would like.

Charlesworth said under the new ownership arrangement, all operations in the football department would be reviewed.

Football-wise, the Mariners still have plenty to look forward to.

A win in their final ACL group game at home to Japan's Kashiwa Reysol next Tuesday will secure them a place in the last-16 knockout phase for the first time.

It would represent a third piece of club history in little more than a week following their maiden A-League title and first ACL away win in nine attempts.

The Mariners will be honoured with a street parade in Gosford on Friday.

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