Reds captain to make brief ALM return

Adelaide United captain Stefan Mauk will return from illness for Friday night’s clash against Sydney FC in what should be be his penultimate game for the A-League Men club.

Mauk is awaiting a visa to finalise his transfer to a Japanese club, understood to be J2 League outfit Fagiano Okayama.

The Reds skipper missed his side’s 2-1 win against Newcastle last week because of a stomach virus but coach Carl Veart says Mauk is a certain inclusion to face the Sky Blues.

“I feel sorry for Stef, to have a two-and-a-half hour bus trip where he’s sitting on the bus toilet is not pleasant,” Veart told reporters on Thursday.

“My understanding is we have got him for this game and next week’s game and I think that is the cut-off date for the visa, so we’re fortunate enough that we get him for two more games.”

Adelaide have secured a foreign replacement but Veart remained tight-lipped on the signing’s identity amid reports linking English striker Zac Clough with the Reds.

Clough, 26, has departed English League Two club Carlisle United on a free transfer.

“All I can say is we have found a replacement,” Veart said.

“He’s at a good age and he has played at a good level and is an exciting player.

“I have always said we needed a creative player and it’s a creative player we have found so we’re really looking forward to him getting into the country and playing.”

The latest arrival follows recent additions to Adelaide’s squad in Japanese marksman Hiroshi Ibusuki and loanee Lachlan Brook, who have helped cover the exit of Ben Halloran to Korea and the looming departure of Mauk.

Ibusuki has scored twice in three games coming off the bench for the Reds.

“We have been increasing his minutes each week and increasing his training load,” Veart said.

“He will most probably start tomorrow. We need that focal point where he brings players into the game and he showed the quality that he has last week.”

Star winger Craig Goodwin will return to Adelaide on Thursday night from Socceroos duty and could yet be included in the XI to face Sydney.

“We will just wait and see how he feels tomorrow  if he feels good to go, then we will consider starting him,” Veart said.