Adelaide’s Sergio van Dijk will make his first A-League appearance this season in Saturday’s clash against Wellington at Hindmarsh Stadium.
Van Dijk has not featured for Adelaide since picking up a calf injury in the club’s AFC Champions League quarter-final exit to Bunyodkor in early October.
The Dutch striker was available last week but United coach John Kosmina left him at home for the 2-1 away loss to rivals Melbourne Victory.
Kosmina’s decision not to pick van Dijk was to experiment with a formation that operated without a recognised front-man.
After that formation failed against Melbourne, Kosmina confirmed on Friday that van Dijk would start in a return to the original shape that was used in the wins over Newcastle and Western Sydney Wanderers earlier this season.
Kosmina also said fellow striker Bruce Djite, who was dropped for last week’s game, would return to the bench alongside midfielders Cam Watson and Fabio Ferreira who have paid the price for that loss to Melbourne.
“Sergey is coming in … we need strike power and we need physical strike power as well because of the sort of team Wellington are,” Kosmina said.
“Serge can compete physically but he’s also got a soft touch as well that will probably compliment Jeronimo (Neumann).”
Iain Fyfe will also replace Nigel Boogaard in the centre of Adelaide’s defence while import Marcelo Carrusca will make his first start for the club.
“Fyfe is going to come in and start to give Boogy (Boogaard) a rest this week while Cam (Watson) will come off the bench with Fabio and Bruce … Marcelo will start as well,” Kosmina said.
“We will play more like the shape we used against Newcastle and started with against West Sydney.
“We need to be a little bit more aggressive. We are at home and we should be aggressive and competitive.”
Although the sight of van Dijk in the starting line-up will bring relief to Reds fans, rumours still persist the 30-year-old is eager to return to his adopted home of Indonesia in order to be closer to his family.
Van Dijk has 12 months left on his contract but with the Hyundai A-League transfer window closing next week, the centre forward could be tempted to join one of a host of South-East Asian clubs chasing his signature.
Kosmina did not guarantee United would keep a hold of van Dijk but insisted the marksman would not be leaving the club.
“If Serge wants to talk to a club next week, he can talk to a club next week – we can’t stop that,” Kosmina said.
“He’s legitimately (coming) out of contract as are a few others, but as far as I understand about him leaving with the transfer window finishing next week, he’s not going anywhere.”