Melbourne Victory have suffered a blow ahead of facing A-League leader Central Coast, losing Brazilian midfielder Gui Finkler to injury.
Finkler battled his way through last week’s thrilling 3-2 come-from-behind win over Sydney FC, but has struggled to train since then due to a groin problem and will miss their hosting of the Mariners at Etihad Stadium.
“Finkler’s no good,” declared Victory coach Ange Postecoglou after training on Friday.
“He’s been struggling with a groin for a couple of weeks.
“We protected him against Wellington but last week, ’cause of the nature of the game, we had to keep him out there for 90 minutes.
“We got him through last week but he just hasn’t trained at all this week.
“So we made the decision yesterday that there’s no point continuing to push him along, he’s got to get over it so he’ll miss tomorrow.”
Postecoglou said Isaka Cernak will come in for Finkler for his first game of the season and will play a central midfield role, despite previously playing on a wing.
“We want to give Isaka an opportunity,” said Postecoglou.
“He’s worked really hard. He had some fitness issues through pre-season but we want to give him an opportunity.
“We think that he’ll fit our style of play, he’s that kind of player.
“But like every week, we give somebody else an opportunity now and for all the players, I guess, it’s about them trying to adapt to how we play.
“And, as we go along, we’re finding out who can and who can’t, so it’s his opportunity tomorrow.”
Postecoglou said he was not tempted to field last week’s hero Andrew Nabbout from the start against Central Coast, despite the youngster scoring twice in 13 minutes against the Sky Blues as Victory sealed the comeback win.
“We’re quite happy with the way the team’s been playing the last three or four weeks and we want to maintain that consistency,” he said.
“And Andrew’s nowhere near playing 90 minutes at the moment, he’s only really just started training with us on a regular basis.
“Marco (Rojas) and Archie (Thompson) have been going really well, so we’re quite happy and comfortable to continue that way.”
Both Rojas and Thompson played for New Zealand and Australia respectively in midweek matches, but Postecoglou said he expected both to start against the Mariners.
“They trained, they got in this morning and I spoke to them,” Postecoglou said.
“Yeah they’re fine. They both played about 70 minutes on Wednesday… they’re right to go.”
And as for Victory being installed a favourite by some bookmakers to sign David Beckham if the former England captain joins the A-League as a guest player, Postecoglou simply nipped the story in the bud.
“That’s great if he is… would we be interested? No,” Postecoglou said.