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Babalj to trial with Wanderers this week

AAP logoAAP 1/01/2017 Emma Kemp

Injury-prone striker Eli Babalj will start trialling with Western Sydney this week as the A-League club looks to solve its goalscoring issues.

Free agent Babalj has spent the last year recovering from an ACL rupture suffered during a loan spell with Adelaide United last season.

The 24-year-old twice-capped Socceroo has since left his Dutch parent club AZ Alkmaar and paid his own way through rehab in Belgium.

The Wanderers are keen to see how he's coming following Kerem Bulut's exit last week.

With Brendon Santalab also suspended for three games, coach Tony Popovic's only available striker is 19-year-old Lachlan Scott, who led the line in Sunday night's unconvincing 1-1 draw with Perth.

Babalj will begin training with the squad on Tuesday in a bid to win a contract.

"He's coming over to train," Popovic said.

"The boy has been out for a very long time and we're going to give him the opportunity to train and see where he's at."

The January transfer window could be make or break for the sixth-placed Wanderers, who have two wins, eight draws and three losses this season.

Former Sydney FC pair Terry Antonis (loan) and Vedran Janjetovic have already signed but the club gravely need a forward to reignite their static attack.

Ex-skipper Nikolai Topor-Stanley's spot remains available, however with five visa players already on the books options will be limited to Australians or a guest marquee.

The club were close to signing Eduardo da Silva as a guest player but had their bid rejected by Football Federation Australia.

Should they still wish to follow that path, Popovic would need to release one of his foreigners.

"The guest marquee is something we're having a look at to see whether we can bring someone in," Popovic said.

"The window is starting everywhere now so I'm sure there'll be some players available.

"It's just a matter of whether we can get them, and then whether we can afford them.

"With the riches around the world and possibilities for players to earn a lot of money it's not easy to get players here."

Popovic was cagey on the Wanderers' reported efforts to re-sign Thailand-based former frontman Mark Bridge, who is also the target of Newcastle.

"I speak to Mark Bridge regularly (and) that's not so much about whether he'd come back or not," Popovic said.

"We supported him to go to Thailand and we'll support him whether he wants to come back or whether he wants to stay."

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