Melbourne City FC will be boosted by the return of defender Ivan Franjic for Monday night’s Hyundai A-League clash against Wellington Phoenix at AAMI Park.
After completing his recovery from a three week quad injury, the return of Socceroos right back Franjic will provide City with a welcome lift in the defensive third, while young winger Steve Kuzmanovski also makes a return to the extended match day squad.
The clash against the seventh-placed Phoenix may also give City fans a chance to see some fresh faces in action for the first time, with new signings Anthony Caceres, Nick Fitzgerald and Osama Malik all deemed available for selection.
For the first time in a fortnight, Head Coach John van’t Schip will be required to make an enforced change to his side, as defender Jack Clisby misses out through suspension after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season in the 2-2 draw against Perth.
Clisby’s absence could pave the way for former Adelaide United defender Malik to make his debut for the Club alongside Patrick Kisnorbo and Aaron Hughes in a three-man defence, leaving the Dutchman satisfied with the tactical options at his disposal.
“We know we can play three at the back, or a flat back four. Getting Osama in is a big bonus because can play higher if we have to, it’s good to have that option so we can play in a different way,” van't Schip said.
“We don't have to overthrow the whole team. We had nine games and only lost once. Now the competition is on and the new players have to prove themselves.
“All these [new signings] are involved in the match day squad. Who will be playing, who will be on the bench, that's something we will decide."
The return of key defenders Louis Fenton and Manny Muscat serves as a timely boost for a Wellington side tasked with facing the league’s leading strike force and with Ernie Merrick's side fighting to keep their Finals ambitions alive, van't Schip said his side must stay focused to pick up an important three points.
“Wellington are fighting to get into the top six. They have players back, so they actually have almost their strongest team," van't Schip said.
“(Roy) Krishna is not playing, Fenton and Muscat are back so they are looking strong again. We know they can play a good game, they like to play through the lines and they like to overload the midfield.
“(Roly) Bonevacia is an important player and with (Michael) McGlinchey, they can really hurt an opponent. We have to prepare ourselves for that and in the meantime play our own game and hurt them where we know we can.”