Brisbane Roar pair Henrique and Ivan Franjic are both in doubt for Sunday’s A-League Grand Final rematch with Perth Glory at Patersons Stadium.
Neither player was present at Friday’s main training session at Ballymore and were instead receiving treatment in a last-ditch effort to play in the opening round of the new campaign.
Henrique has minor bone bruising in his heel, which caused him to miss the Roar’s final pre-season trial against the Mariners on the Sunshine Coast two weeks ago, while Franjic is battling a groin strain.
Both are rated 50-50 chances of facing the Glory.
While coach Rado Vidosic still holds hope that they can take part in Sunday’s match, he has already lined up replacements.
Young guns Nick Fitzgerald and Jack Hingert trained with the rest of the starting XI in drills and are the likely call-ups if Henrique and Franjic cannot prove their fitness.
“We’ll see how they respond tomorrow. We’ll give them every opportunity to regain fitness, but if not then we’ve got players that can replace them,” Vidosic said.
“The younger players that we’ve got are very, very good and probably what they need is just opportunities. This is a great one for them to show how good they are and what they can do.”
Vidosic also named left wingers Do Dong-Hyun and Rocky Visconte as other possibilities.
Sunday will mark Vidosic’s A-League debut as Brisbane coach following the departure of Ange Postecoglou to Melbourne Victory shortly after April’s grand final win.
A long-serving assistant at the Roar, he is well liked by the players and highly rated by club officials.
But he knows comparisons between himself and two-time championship-winning coach Postecoglou are inevitable.
“It all depends how the team goes over the first five or six weeks,” Vidosic said.
“If we win the first five or six games and don’t lose any, people are going to say ‘Ange who?’
“If we lose, then everyone will bring back Ange’s name regardless of how he goes with Melbourne Victory.”
Captain Matt Smith says the transition from old to new coach has been seamless.
“It would be different if Rado’s just come in two weeks ago and we’re going to go straight into the A-League season,” Smith said.
“(But) we’ve had Rado in now for four, five, six months, plus the last seven years of the A-League.
“It’s not like he’s come in and completely changed the landscape. There’s no doubt Ange is a great coach but he was backed up by a great person in Rado.”