CARLTON football club have confirmed that they are waiting for a decision from Martin Clarke as to whether he wishes to re-ignite his Aussie Rules career with the Melbourne-based club.
The Blues, who already have Zach Tuohy and Setanta ó hAilpín on their list, have made no secret of the fact that they want the Down star to take their Irish tally to three. Clarke played 46 games for Collingwood before returning to Ireland to pursue his Gaelic career.
"We're really keen for Martin to come here," said Steven Icke, Carlton general manager of football operations.
"We're waiting to hear back from him and his management but we'd need to know reasonably soon."
If Clarke (right) does decide to return to Australia, Carlton are not permitted to sign him directly due to his status as a former player. Instead, they must acquire him through the national draft or via a deal with the AFL's newest franchise, Greater Western Sydney (GWS), who, because of their entry to the competition, have received special recruitment dispensations.
"A lot has to happen before he can come here. That's why we need to know his plans reasonably soon. Because he's a previously listed player, there are two mechanisms by which we can get him. Either through the draft, or GWS can pre-list him and then trade him," Icke said.
The 2011 season saw Carlton become the first club to field two Irish players on the senior side since Melbourne's star duo of Jim Stynes and Seán Wight.
While it remains uncertain whether next year will see them boast three Irish players, their Irish pairing of ó hAilpín and Tuohy looks set to continue.
Both players reached the end of their contracts this season, but Icke revealed the club are eager to re-sign both.
Tuohy debuted in round 11 and amassed 11 senior appearances for the Blues, while ó hAilpín had an injury interrupted year but finished strongly to line up for the seniors in their semi-final defeat to West Coast Eagles. The 28-year-old former hurler has now played 80 games for the Blues.
"Zach (Tuohy) went home to Ireland last week in the knowledge that we are keen to offer him a new contract and he will be at Carlton next year. He is a required player at the club, it's just a matter of sitting down with him and his manager and getting it signed.
"Setanta played in our last game this year, our semi-final. It's clear that if we think he's good enough for that, we hold him in very high regard. It's just a matter of sorting out the terms and conditions."
Elsewhere, the AFL Players' Association has ruled out strike action from the players during this year's International Rules Series despite the fact that a pay dispute with the AFL has still not been resolved.
The players' association has rejected the AFL's $1.144 billion five-year offer, responding with a counter-proposal for a three-year deal, and negotiations between the two parties are not due to resume until after the October 1 Grand final between Collingwood and Geelong.