Milligan reluctant to take A-League option as Baniyas exit looms

Socceroos utility Mark Milligan has all but ruled out a return to the A-League, as he prepares to part company with relegated Arabian Gulf League club Baniyas.

Mark Milligan

Mark Milligan has dismissed claims he is returning to the A-League Source: Getty Images

The off-contract, 55-cap, Milligan has been linked over the past 24 hours with both the Newcastle Jets and Dubai-based Al Shabab, but insists there is no substance in either connection.

His preference, though, with his family settled in Abu Dhabi, is to remain in the Gulf.

Either that, or move elsewhere in Asia, rather than revisit the A-League where his track record with Sydney FC, the Jets, and most recently as the skipper of Melbourne Victory, is exemplary.

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Speaking ahead of his farewell match for Baniyas against Al Ahli on Saturday night, Milligan told The World Game: "At the moment there are a few conversations happening (with clubs) but we don't have anything at all concrete.

"Obviously it's not easy at times with the Asian player quota here, and China pulling out their Asian player.

"Then there's the money, the area you are going to live in. I also two girls in school ... there have been things that haven't been suitable for whatever reason.

"It's hard to get a good fit to be honest ... but we are just being patient."

Milligan, though, remains adamant that an A-League comeback is highly unlikely.

"I am looking around this region because the family is settled and we have been here a while," Milligan said.



"Hopefully, over the next week or two, we will start getting some concrete offers and I will have something to decide then.

"I am not really looking to come home. It's hard ... I know the A-League, I played there quite a bit and I know a lot of the players and coaches.

"Its probably not my first preference at the moment.

"I love Australia, and I love the football there and I'm sure at some stage, whether it is playing or in some other capacity, I will be involved there again.

"But this moment, I am looking to see what comes up abroad to make the move as easy as possible."

Referring to the Jets and Al Shabab links, an amused Milligan said: "The first I heard of it was when my mum and dad messaged me!"

Milligan, who turns 32 in August, remains an integral part of Ange Postecoglou's Socceroos jigsaw, able to slot into a myriad of roles seamlessly.



His inclusion in June's hectic schedule - including a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia, a friendly against Brazil and the looming confederations cup – all guaranteed.

He was impressive in his preferred midfield role in the recent 2-0 World Cup win over UAE, and despite Baniyas' woes, he has not let his high standards slip.

"It's been a tough year ... there's been a complete overhaul of the staff at the club," he said.

"They have been spot on in many ways and since Christmas we've only lost a couple of games, but we drew games we needed to win.

"It's something that started early on and when you're in that rut it's hard to come out of it.

"I tried to be as encouraging and positive around the place as possible, but it was just a difficult situation."


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3 min read
Published 12 May 2017 at 8:46am
By Dave Lewis