City to ease Socceroos back into action as ALM resumes, shift pressure to Sydney FC

Rado Vidosic says Melbourne City will take a cautious approach toward integrating their three Socceroos back into their squad as the A-League Men season resumes. The interim coach also believes the pressure is on Sydney FC to get a result out of the two side’s meeting on Saturday evening. 

City had three representatives in coach Graham Arnold’s squad during the Socceroos’ World Cup campaign, with Marco Tilio joining Jamie Maclaren and Mat Leckie on the eve of the tournament as an injury replacement player after scans revealed that Martin Boyle had an ACL injury. 

Largely tapped as group stage fodder – much to the delight of a dressing room that used such predictions as added motivation – the Socceroos shocked observers at home and abroad by making the knockout stages in Qatar, as well as setting new marks for wins and clean sheets by an Australian men’s team at a World Cup.

The side’s exhilarating run, however, eventually ran into the brick wall that was Argentina and superstar Lionel Messi in the round of 16 – the Socceroos going down 2-1 to La Albiceleste on Sunday morning and sent home. 

That exit, however, means that City’s trio, as well as the five other ALM representatives in the side, have returned in time for the Australian top flight’s resumption this weekend. 

Not playing any minutes in Doha, Tilio had trained twice prior to Vidosic’s press conference on Friday morning, while Maclaren (three appearances off the bench at the World Cup) and Leckie (four starts) had trained once. 

All three will travel with the squad to New South Wales for Saturday’s clash with Sydney FC – the trio set to join fellow Socceroo Andrew Redmayne in a signing session at the conclusion of Saturday evening’s game – but the extent of their role for the match itself is still being determined. 

“We’re going to see how they respond today and then we’ll see how they are for tomorrow,” Vidosic said. 

“We’re not going to announce the squad until tomorrow sometime; when they all wake up and we see where they are, how many minutes sports science recommends and we’ll go from there.”

Having played 336 cumulative minutes across the Socceroos’ four games in Qatar, adding an assist and a famous goal against the Danes in the process, Leckie in particular shapes as the most likely player to be managed by City as the season resumes. 

“There were a lot of conversations about him, especially about him, because he played four games in eleven days,” said the City interim boss. 

“Apparently it wasn’t that hot over there … so we’ll see how he is. Obviously, we can’t afford to push him and risk injury, that’s not in our nature.

“But we’ll see how he responds after yesterday’s training and today’s training and tomorrow will obviously be the key day when we can have a good chat with him and see how he feels.

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“Is he ready to start? Is that better for him to have a warm-up and start or is it better to bring him on later in the game?

“All those little things we will decide tomorrow.”

City will resume the ALM season in a strong position: top of the table and the league’s only remaining undefeated team after the opening six games of the campaign. 

They will also be returning to action, however, without the services of coach Patrick Kisnorbo, who became the first Australian coach to ever land a job in one of Europe’s five major leagues when the City Football Group placed him in charge of its Ligue 1 side, ES Troyes. 

Formerly City’s A-League Women’s coach, Vidosic is now serving as the club’s men’s coach on an interim basis following Kisnorbo’s departure, with his son Dario taking up his former position in charge of the women’s side. 

But while City is once again shaping as title favourites this season, Vidosic isn’t feeling the pressure heading into his first game in charge. At least, he says he isn’t, instead preferring to turn that focus onto his opponents. 

Yet to pick up a win in their newly constructed home at the new Sydney Football Stadium, a loss to the Citizens would likely see the Harboursiders fall out of the ALM’s top six and, after a brief, World Cup-break respite, ratchet up the pressure once again on coach Steve Corica. 

“They’ve been one of the better teams in the A-Leagues’ history, they’ve always been up there,” said the interim City coach. “They’ve got a stable coaching structure, Steve Corica has been with them for many years, and they’ve got a great team this season. It’s going to be a difficult game for us. They are at home. 

“But I think the pressure is more on them. They need to deal with us and they need to win the game, so there’s more pressure on them. 

“We do have a few tactical applications, what we’re going to try and implement and see if that works. If it works, it’s going to be a very interesting game.”

Florin Berenguer remains unavailable for City with a hamstring injury, but Vidosic said that he expects the Frenchman to begin to join his side’s main group in lighter sessions next week as his recovery continues.

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Header Image Credit: Melbourne City / Aleksandar Kostadinoski


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