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EXCLUSIVE By Derek McGregor

St Mirren are set to sign Australian winger Ryan Strain from Israeli champions Maccabi Haifa.

SunSport understands the highly active Saints are awaiting confirmation of clearance for a potential free transfer switch for the Coventry-born ace who has taken Australian citizenship and previously played for Adelaide United.

But they look set to beat stiff competition from a number of English sides and at least one top club here.

Former Aston Villa youngster Strain made 14 appearances for title-winning Maccabi Haifa last season.

Now, however, he is believed to be keen to connect with Stephen Robinson’s Saints and become their SIXTH summer catch for the 2022-23 campaign.

And the buddies are hopeful of striking a deal they would consider a coup.

Strain was called up by Australia a year ago for World Cup qualifiers against China and Vietnam but hasn’t played after suffering a hamstring injury in training.

However, he believes a move to Scotland and a strong Premiership start may give him a late chance of making Graham Arnold’s squad for the final in Qatar in November.

The 25-year-old joined Maccabi Haifa a year ago and played for them in the top flight, domestic cup and Europa Conference League qualifiers.

The Israeli giants are due to face Olympiacos next month in the Champions League second round qualifiers.

Strain, however, is keen on a return to the UK and Robinson – working closely with new chief operating officer Keith Lasley and chief recruiting officer Martin Foyle on a dramatic squad overhaul – would be delighted to land him.

The ambitious Northern Irishman, determined to make Paisley’s side a top six contender, should find out if the player arrives in the coming days.

St Mirren have already signed strikers Toyosi Olusanya from Middlesbrough and Jonah Ayunga from Morecambe, midfielders Mark O’Hara and Keanu Baccus from Motherwell and Western Sydney Wanderers and goalkeeper Trevor Carson from Dundee United.

Robinson – who did wonders in charge at Motherwell, including two Cup finals and a place in Europe – replaced Jim Goodwin at Aberdeen destination in February but then saw the side suffer a dip in form and falter. embark on a struggle for security which it won only belatedly. on.

However, he is determined to ensure there is no repeat in the new season and instead wants Saints to push hard for higher places and decent cup runs.

Robinson – who will take his side to Northern Ireland for pre-season training and friendlies – is also still working on other possible signings.

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