The Premier League has come calling for Central Coast Mariners forward Mitchell Duke, at least for the next week. The 22-year-old impressed last season for the A-League champions and more recently scored twice in the East Asian Cup against Japan and China. Sam Allardyce has called Duke in for a week's worth of training at West Ham United in the final week before the launch of the 2013/14 Premier League season.
Duke earned significant minutes for the first time in 2012/13 and rewarded Graham Arnold for his selection by scoring six times in the league and twice more in the Champions League. His call up to the Socceroos for the East Asia Cup was justified with his two goals in late July, even as Australia stumbled to a last place finish in the tournament's final group.
Now Allardyce will take a look at the young forward. Though the time in England has been described in a Mariners press release as training, the club is hedging by including this line at the end of the release:
"Central Coast Mariners will update fans and media with any further developments regarding Duke's training period with the Hammers, should they occur."
Should a change in Duke's status occur while he is in England, Arnold could lose out on yet another attacking option from last year's championship-winning team. Bernie Ibini has transferred permanently to Shanghai SIPG while Daniel McBreen is on loan with SIPG but is said to be considering making his move permanent, as well. Clearly a move to the Premier League would be accepted by fans as a legitimate next step for Duke, but it could leave the Mariners in a difficult spot with only two months left in the A-League's pre-season. That said, Arnold has added Marcos Flores to provide an additional attacking threat.
As of now, Duke is expected to be back in Australia by August 17.