Adelaide United coach Josep Gombau says Isaias Sanchez is fit to face Brisbane Roar on Friday and insists the Reds can cope without centre forward Bruce Djite.
Spanish holding midfielder Isaias is a key figure for the FFA Cup holders and had been in doubt due to an ankle problem.
But after training at Adelaide Oval on Thursday ahead of the eagerly anticipated elimination final, Gombau declared the former Espanyol man ready to go.
“Isaias is OK, he will play. He trained today and he’s in a good condition,” he said.
The same cannot be said for Djite, who suffered a groin injury and was forced off in the 4-1 win at home to Melbourne City in the final round of the regular season.
“We hope that if we win, next week he can be available,” Gombau said of the powerful striker.
As for the task of replacing the central figure in the Reds’ potent, mobile attack, the boss backed one of his trio of Spanish forwards to fill the void.
“We have players that can play there, we have [Sergio] Cirio, we have Pablo [Sanchez] and we have [Miguel] Palanca … that can play as a [number] nine,” Gombau said.
“All of these players can do a good job there. I am confident whoever plays in this role, in this position, will do a good job.”
Gombau also confirmed centre-back Nigel Boogaard and energetic midfielder Jimmy Jeggo are likely to return to the starting XI after being left out to avoid the possibility of picking up a suspension through an accumulation of yellow cards.
But they will be without full-back Michael Marrone after his red card against City.
Much has been made meanwhile of the decision to switch the match from Adelaide’s regular home at Coopers Stadium to the larger Adelaide Oval, where the quality of the pitch earlier this season, at a time when it was shared with cricket, was deemed unsuitable.
Having trained on the surface twice this week, the Reds – are now far more comfortable at the venue.
The Reds finished third in the regular season and will go in as favourites despite the Roar’s outstanding record against them.
Reigning A-League champions Brisbane have won their past two clashes against Adelaide, and their record at Coopers Stadium – the Reds’ usual home – reads 10 wins from 17 trips.
The other elimination final will see the Wellington Phoenix host Melbourne City at Westpac Stadium in New Zealand.
While the out-of-form City will be without the suspended Kew Jaliens, the Phoenix are set to have Glen Moss and Ben Sigmund fit for the encounter.
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