Sydney FC expect Alessandro Del Piero to play against Adelaide United, as the Sky Blues attempt to cure their A-League travel sickness.
Del Piero has been battling a back injury but trained on Thursday, with coach Frank Farina confident the Italian star will front against the Reds at Adelaide’s Coopers Stadium.
Sydney, winners just once in their past 14 away matches, will face an Adelaide outfit without injured creative force Marcelo Carrusca and suspended striker Jeronimo Neumann.
Carrusca was repeatedly battered by borderline tackles in Adelaide’s 1-0 win against Newcastle last Sunday and will miss because of knee bruising.
Adelaide coach Josep Gombau remains irked by Carrusca’s injury, after voicing pre-match concerns about Newcastle’s overtly physical style.
“It was my concern last week when I say there are a lot of (Newcastle) fouls and we need to protect the players,” Gombau told reporters in Adelaide on Thursday.
“And in the end, one of the players that has the most talent cannot play … for us, tomorrow is a very important game and we lose one of our most valued players.”
With striker Jeronimo serving a one-match ban for receiving a fifth yellow card this season, the Reds summoned speedster Fabio Ferreria from a two-game absence with a groin injury.
And Gombau was relieved defender Osama Malik has been cleared to play after hurting an ankle last week.
Malik is certain to cross paths at stages with Del Piero, but Gombau said the Sky Blues’ marquee man won’t be a marked man.
“Del Piero is a player with a big name, but we need to do our job,” Gombau said.
“Of course we need to mark him, but man-to-man marking is something in football today that is not useful.”
The sixth-placed Sky Blues hold a five-point buffer from seventh-placed Adelaide.
Sydney have lost defender Seb Ryall, who injured a leg at training, as they seek to rebound from a 5-2 loss to Brisbane Roar on Boxing Day.
“Everyone was hurting after the game but, as we seen in the league, anyone can beat anyone on their day,” Farina told reporters in Sydney on Thursday.
“Unfortunately we came up against a red-hot Brisbane last week and we probably weren’t mobile enough in certain areas on the park and we got punished for that.”