Melbourne Victory striker Robbie Kruse is likely to be used off the bench for Tuesday’s Asian Champions League away clash with Tianjin Teda.
The 22-year-old has clocked up more air miles than most during the past fortnight, flying return to Germany, where he featured in Australia’s shock 2-1 friendly win before jumping on a plane with his Victory team-mates only one day after returning from Europe.
Unable to get a direct flight to Tianjin from Melbourne, the Victory squad flew to the South Korean capital of Seoul where they had an overnight stop before making their way to the city of 12 million people in North China.
Victory interim coach Mehmet Durakovic explained the trip had taken its toll on Kruse, who will be conspicuous by his absence in the starting line-up with Archie Thompson and Costa Rican Carlos Hernandez preferred.
“Robbie’s had a really long trip, he got back Friday morning to Australia and the next day we had to fly to South Korea and China,” Durakovic said.
“He’s a bit jet-lagged and tired to be fair, so Robbie’s getting as much treatment as he can off the pitch and hopefully he might come on in the second-half.”
Languishing at the bottom of Group E after defeats in their opening two matches, Victory needs to leave China with at least a point to keep their slim hopes of progressing to the next stage alive.
In a bid to spark some life into the Victory team, Durakovic has rung the changes with Hernandez, goalkeeper Tando Velaphi, midfielder Leigh Broxham and defender Matthew Foschini coming into the starting line-up.
Three of the changes have been forced ones due to injury with Danny Allsopp (groin), Marvin Angulo (hip flexor) and Matthew Kemp (knee) left home in Australia, but Durakovic is happy with the team at his disposal.
“I’ve made a few changes that I think are right,” Durakovic said.
“We’ve put in a few youngsters, they’ve been working hard on the training pitch and when the time comes they’ll have a good game.”
In other ACL news, Sydney FC coach Vitezslav Lavicka has scoffed at suggestions his side will be underdone for their vital Champions League clash with Shanghai Shenhua on Wednesday.
The Sky Blues haven’t played a competitive game in over a month since their matchday one stalemate with the Suwon Bluewings on March 2.
The devastating earthquake and Tsunami in Japan saw the Sky Blues’ second group match against J-League club Kashima Antlers – set down for March 16 – postponed.
In contrast, Wednesday’s opponents Shanghai have already played their second ACL match, as well as a domestic game in the Chinese Super League.
The danger is Sydney may be short of a run against Shanghai but Lavicka doesn’t see it that way.
“Everybody is ready to play, I’m happy we have had a lot of time to do good training sessions and the boys have done well,” Lavicka said.
“We’ve had some practice games between us at training as well as games against (New South Wales) state league teams to keep the game practice up.”
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