Defender Michael Zullo may return for Melbourne City FC against Sydney FC on Saturday evening after Head Coach John van't Schip confirmed him as a late inclusion on Friday.
van't Schip confirmed that following the Club's initial squad submission on Thursday, Zullo would come into the squad for the first match of 2016.
"Michael Zullo is in the squad, Paulo Retre is out of course because he is suspended and that is more or less the biggest change [this week]," van't Schip told media at the City Football Academy on Friday.
"He's fully recovered. He has trained now a few weeks with the team, individually he passed some big tests to see physically where he was and in the last few days he trained with the group as well.
"So he looks good to be back and now we just have to again get him playing in games and that's about waiting for his chance and see when we can get him out there.
"It could be that he starts some games, or he comes in some games at the end. It's just game management."
"More likely [he will start on the bench] beacuse he hasn't played for a very long time."
In other team news, van't Schip confirmed that Jacob Melling may come in as a replacement for Paulo Retre, who will miss Saturday's match due to a one week suspension, due to the accumulation of five yellow cards in his 12 appearances this season - although the Head Coach was hesitant to confirm whether Melling would start the match.
"Of course that is another one, Jacob was not in last week; he just didn't recover on time and so he will take the spot of Pauli this week.
"He looked good this week Jacob, he's another player we just have to be careful with; he played a lot of games just after he came back from his injury.
"I don't know if he is going to start but he is ready to be part of the game."
With players such as Zullo, Aaron Hughes, Robi Koren and Ivan Franjic returning to full fitness, van't Schip said there was healthy competition for places in the squad ahead of the match against Sydney.
"That's important [the competition] and I think that makes the team better and players know that if they are not performing [then there is a player pushing for their spot]," van't Schip said.
"But on the other hand you should not change too much as well. I think now we are in period that we had a few good games, we got some points, it gives the team confidence."
van't Schip said Sydney, one position on the ladder behind City but level on 20 points, would be a difficult opponent on Saturday evening and refused to admit City had home ground advantage when playing at AAMI Park.
"Last year Sydney had a very good record away [from home] so they are a team that can play away and they have their approach," van't Schip said.
"They had a good start, [but] in the last few weeks they have lost some points, but they also had a win of course.
"[Sydney are] always a difficult opponent; Graham Arnold knows how to organise his team and they are very good at breaking down the game of the opponent, they are very compact.
"We have to focus on where we think we can hurt them and we have to stick to our game plan and of course know where their strengths are."
Saturday, 2 January 2016
Melbourne City FC v Sydney FC
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-Off: 7:30 PM (Local) (7:30 PM (AEDT))
Referee: Strebre Delovski
Assistant Referee 1: Brad Hobson
Assistant Referee 2: George Lakrindis
Fourth Official: Lucien Laverdure
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 7.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport X (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: 774 ABC Melbourne, 702 ABC Sydney, ABC Local Radio Vic, ABC Local Radio NSW, Grandstand Digital, Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live.
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #MCYvSYD
To purchase tickets visit www.a-league.com.au/tickets