Head Coach Richard Garcia has confirmed that four senior players could return to the Glory squad for Sunday’s clash with Central Coast Mariners at Central Coast Stadium (kick-off at 2.45pm WST).
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An enforced break of 11 days since the narrow defeat against Western Sydney has allowed a number of squad members to continue their recovery from COVID-19, while the club have also moved in that time to sign experienced attacking midfielder Nick Fitzgerald.
And Garcia is hopeful that he will have at least a few more selection options available to him for Sunday than he has had in previous weeks.
“Brandon O’Neill, Bruno Fornaroli, Mitch Oxborrow and Jack Clisby are all chances to start,” he said.
“The guys that were out last week have all had a week’s training.
“There are a few that are still struggling with it, but we’re going to give it a right go with those guys.
“They’ve been pushing themselves through the week and they’re feeling up to it.
“It’s good that the squad’s being bolstered by those guys, but we’ve also got to be mindful that they have just returned from COVID and if they do play a part in the game, how we limit that.”
In terms of potential absentees, meanwhile, the Head Coach believes that a number of those most recently affected by COVID remain doubts for the Mariners game.
“We had another few go down at the start of last week, so they’re only just getting out [of quarantine],” he said.
“That’s the likes of Josh Rawlins, Darryl Lachman… Daniel Stynes and Cal Timmins, Ossie Malik as well.
“So there’s quite a few that have just got out and have started to train.
“Some are feeling good and some aren’t feeling so good, so we’re going to have to leave it to the last minute to see what their involvement, if any, will be on Sunday.”
Garcia went on to reveal that Daniel Sturridge is not expected to feature before paying tribute to fellow-forward Andy Keogh who, this weekend, is set to become the first Glory player in the club’s history to make 150 A-League appearances.
“Andy has been a fantastic servant for the club, not only on the pitch, but away from it as well where he has been great amongst the group and the younger guys,” he said.
“He’s a model professional who has definitely had his ups and downs at the club and has stuck by the club through everything.
“At the moment he is serving a great purpose not only as a player and as a member of the squad, but also as a mentor to our younger players.”
In terms of Sunday’s meeting with a Mariners side currently sitting three points and four places above Glory, Garcia is expecting a stern test.
“It’s definitely going to be a tough game,” he said.
“They’re a team that’s in form and are well-drilled and talented.
“They’ve played very well at home, but we’re getting some players back and it’s a opportunity for us to take that first rung on the ladder again and put in a performance like we did against Sydney FC, get some points on the road and hopefully get some momentum from there.
“For us, it’s about trying to be consistent with the group we put out and that’s been difficult.
“It’s also been difficult not having many games and being very stop- start, so we’re waiting for the games to come thick and fast and hopefully we can then get some continuity in our games and in the league.
“We need that rhythm.”
The last six meetings between Glory and the Mariners have yielded three wins for the men in purple, two for the Gosford side and one draw.
Nick Montgomery’s men have lost just once at home this season, to Melbourne City in Round 8 and have scored ten goals in their last five outings.