North Queensland Fury chief Middleby: Fowler considering options
But Middleby and Fowler have maintained daily phone contact, which extended to last night, when the former said he was again assured by Fowler he was no closer to making up his mind.
''I've been in contact with Robbie and it's still a situation where they are trying to work out things and there's going to be a lot of speculation in the meantime,'' he told the Townsville Bulletin.
''My gut feeling is I'm optimistic, I'm desperate to get him back here, absolutely desperate, and I'll do everything in my power to get him back here. I spoke to him and he said he had not made up his mind on what he was doing.''
But Middleby conceded that the longer the process dragged out, the harder it may be to keep Fowler.
''It's a situation where (FFA) have to work through things ... and we could be in a risky situation with what's going on in that we could lose Robbie Fowler, he could go to a Sydney, he could go somewhere else,'' he said.
''Because of that it is always going to be tough for us ... you could lose him and it's the same with other players, it looks like there's interest in other players in our squad we could lose as well, and that's what could happen.''