Perth Glory pounce for Smeltz
Perth Glory have completed the signing of Shane Smeltz with the New Zealand striker replacing Robbie Fowler as the club's international marquee player on a three-year deal.
Although Smeltz has both Australian and New Zealand passports, he has been signed as the club's international player, while Mile Sterjovski has one season remaining on his contract as the local marquee.
Smeltz's recruitment means former England striker Fowler, who has verbally agreed to return to Perth, will have his salary included under the club's salary cap if he officially decides to play in Australia for one more year.
But coach Ian Ferguson believes that for all Fowler's experience and quality, the rebuilding process at the Glory has hinged on Smeltz's signature as the ex-Gold Coast forward has netted a remarkable 49 goals in the last three Hyundai A-League seasons.
"Shane was my first priority, my first target,'' Ferguson said. "I knew we had to get a proven goalscorer and that's what we have done. Shane is the type of forward we missed last season, one who can hold up the ball and bring other players in the game.''
In a massive restructure of the squad after the club came second last in 2010-11, 13 players have already left the Glory. Smeltz's recruitment means they have signed six players so far to replace them, bringing in Danny Vukovic, Travis Dodd, Evan Berger, Dean Heffernan and Neil Young, with club owner Tony Sage promising a few more recruits in the next few months.
"I don't think one player's going to change everything,'' Smeltz said. "But I think I can certainly help out. I think there's a whole bunch of players coming in (and) there's a fresh look about the club ... it's something good to be a part of.
"I've been to two clubs before where I started off fresh and this has got the same sort of feeling and obviously (I'm) looking forward to a really good pre-season, get my head down and hopefully can continue the good form that I've been in.''
Sage said he hoped Smeltz could form a lethal forward combination with veteran striker Fowler, who is currently part of Karl Robinson's backroom staff at MK Dons.
"We took him (Smeltz) under the international marquee which removes Robbie of that position,'' Sage said. "We've talked to Robbie and he's keen to come back to Perth but we've told him, 'look the deal isn't going to be the same as it was before, you're going to have to fit under our salary cap'.
"He's accepted those terms on a handshake. We want to put it down in writing obviously but we believe it's only a few weeks away.''
Sage said young defender Scott Neville was still in line for a transfer to Championship outfit Portsmouth. Neville has been trialling with Pompey and Sage said the club had asked him to stay on for an extra week and a half, in order for staff to have a further look at him. And, the owner also said Glory still wanted to play a July friendly against Scottish giants Celtic at nib Stadium, although they had hit a stumbling block.
"Unfortunately we heard some bad news yesterday,'' Sage said. "Nathan Tinkler of the Newcastle Jets pulled out for non-football reasons.
"Celtic will only come out if they've got two games. We won't be able to have two games in Perth, so we're seeking one of the other A-League clubs to play. Everything was going to be announced in the next ten days but unfortunately Newcastle had to pull out.''