Teenager Terry Antonis is set to earn a timely recall to the Sydney FC side for their crunch clash with Newcastle Jets on Saturday.
Antonis hasn’t started a game for the Sky Blues since the home loss to Adelaide United on November 23 but is expected to get a start in a match crucial to the club’s finals chances.
The midfielder has spent the last three weeks playing with Sydney’s Youth League side to gain some match fitness and with veteran Brett Emerton unavailable due to a back injury, coach Frank Farina feels Antonis is ready for a call-up.
Regarded as a key member of the Sky Blues midfield at the start of the season, Antonis has struggled to make an impact in the 2012/13 A-League in a campaign disrupted by injury and national team duty.
“I think it is one of the things that does him more harm than good,” Farina said of Antonis’ continual absence with respective national squads.
“He goes away and he’s not playing 90 minutes all of the time, coming off the bench for 10, 15 or 20 minutes.
“He needs regular football at the moment, he’s 19 years old and once he gets that you’ll see the best of him.”
Farina, who coached the Socceroos for six years, said he understood the need for national coaches to have a look at all the best talent but believes it can harm young players if they aren’t getting enough game time.
“If they are picked they have to go, it’s as simple as that,” Farina said.
“I don’t have a problem with it but sometimes for the younger ones it can be a little more detrimental than positive if they are not playing regularly.
“Expectations are very high because he’s a national team player but that’s something he’s got to deal with.
“I said to him the more you play, the better for you at the moment.”
While Emerton will miss the Jets clash, Farina said the injury isn’t as bad as first feared and the experienced midfielder should be available for the Sky Blues’ next game against Brisbane Roar.
“The hamstring looks ok, I think it’s more neural than anything,” the Sky Blues boss said on Emerton.
“He’s had an injection in one of the discs in his back so we really want that to settle down, particularly with another two games coming up at home.”
Emerton’s injury is one of three enforced changes Farina will need to make with defenders Fabio and Tiago Calvano suspended.
Former Jets defender Adam Griffiths will come in at centre-back with either Trent McClenahan or Nathan Sherlock to replace Fabio.
Sydney, who have lost both previous clashes with Newcastle this season, will move back into the top six with a win at Hunter Stadium.