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Crook allays Del Piero fears

Sydney coach Ian Crook says Alessandro Del Piero will start Saturday’s clash with Newcastle despite missing training on Monday.

Del Piero starred in a losing cause as Crook’s side opened their A-League campaign with a disappointing 2-0 loss to Wellington.

Despite his limited preparation having only landed in Australia a fortnight before the season opener, the Italian legend lasted the full 90 minutes and was easily his side’s best performer.

The 37-year-old was far less active on Monday, managing a light walk and a brief stint on the stationary bike before heading back to the dressing room.

But Crook was quick to allay fears the superstar is in doubt for the clash against Emile Heskey’s Jets.

“He obviously was tight and with the flight and everything so with him and Emmo (Brett Emerton) today we thought the best thing was for them just to do a light recovery,” Crook said.

“He was up at four in the morning (on Sunday) and they both played 90 minutes after not a lot of football pre-season.

“Both of them did great to get through the game but it’s just a about looking after them and making sure they’re right for the next one.”

However, Terry Antonis is unlikely to play against the Jets after suffering concussion against Wellington.

The youngster was unfit to travel back with the squad on Sunday after copping a knock early in the second half and is scheduled to fly home on Tuesday.

“He obviously wasn’t at all good after the game so he comes back tomorrow and then we’ll assess him,” Crook said.

While he concedes his side’s first hit-out of the season ‘wasn’t good’, the coach promised to stick by his players as well as his game plan.

“At the end of it we don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water,” he said.

“We’ve set out to try and achieve something in terms of our play and we tried to do that but we didn’t execute it at all well.

“I’m not just going to change my philosophies just on the back of one game where we didn’t perform.”

Asked to respond to criticism his men ‘weren’t on the same page’ against the well-drilled Phoenix, Crook replied: “On the weekend that was true but players don’t become bad players overnight, just as one good performance doesn’t mean you’re a world-beating side.

“We knew that there was work to do, there’s certain sides of our game that we knew would take time for us to work on.

“It wasn’t ideal, it certainly wasn’t good, we’re not going to hide from that fact but Alessandro was good … we now need everybody else to be like that.

“Nothing replaces games and that’s probably one thing we’ve been short of, we’re actually short of players playing match time together but that will come.”

Mon 8 October, 2012
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