Last season's A-League Golden Boot winner will be returning to the league just as soon as this weekend's fixtures are complete. Daniel McBreen, who has been in China on loan with Shanghai SIPG since June, has fulfilled the terms of his arrangement and will be flying back to Australia on Friday, according to today's Daily Telegraph. He will not be available for selection on Saturday as the Mariners play rivals Newcastle Jets in the first F3 Derby of the year, but the 36-year-old intends to train with his teammates for the first time this season on Monday.
McBreen, who scored seventeen goals for the A-League champions last season, returns to a very different side than the one he left early in the offseason. Gone are Bernie Ibini, Mat Ryan, Patrick Zwaanswijk, Pedj Bojic and Oliver Bozanic while Marcos Flores, Matt Simon and Marcel Seip have joined Graham Arnold's championship holders. Mitchell Duke has been starting up top for the Mariners in McBreen's absence, scoring in the season opener.
It would be unrealistic to expect McBreen to score nearly twenty goals again this season, but there is no denying his return gives the Mariners one of the strongest attacking groups in the league. Arnold will need to manage several players used to starting, but with Flores pulling the strings in midfield and Michael McGlinchey and Nick Fitzgerald already playing well, Central Coast are poised to make yet another run at the top of the table.
UPDATE - McBreen scored in his final game with Shanghai SIPG, a 1-1 draw with league champions (and likely Asian champions) Guanghzou Evergrande.