Best of the Press: Injury news leaves sour taste just as star began ‘getting momentum’

Get ready for all six games this weekend with the Isuzu UTE A-League Round 20 Preview is your one-stop shop for the best of the pre-weekend media activity ahead of what’s set to be an enthralling Round 20 in the Isuzu UTE A-League.

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Melbourne City’s Tilio blow: ‘Disappointed and frustrated’

Marco Tilio can’t take a trick at the moment, with the Melbourne City loanee facing up to six weeks on the sidelines due to a hamstring injury.

Tilio has endured a frustrating period after joining Scottish champions Celtic from three-time reigning Isuzu UTE A-League premiers City at the start of 2023-24.

Having struggled for game time in Glasgow, the Socceroo returned to Melbourne on loan in January.

However, he is now set to miss at least a month of action having also sat out the Round 19 loss to Macarthur FC.

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“Last week it was soreness but then when he came back into training, when we were pushing a little bit, he kept feeling something in his hamstring,” City interim head coach Aurelio Vidmar told reporters ahead of the clash with league-leading Wellington Phoenix.

“We had him re-scanned, so he has a bit of a tendon issue with his hamstring. He is out for a little while.

“At this stage we don’t know. It could be anywhere up to six weeks. He is already feeling better. The symptoms will get better very quickly but then it’s about how explosive he can get in a short space of time. I’m no expert but it’s not that easy.

“Minimum it would be four weeks I’d say. But lets wait and see.

“It’s a bit disappointing because he came in against Melbourne Victory, still trying to find his feet after five-six months of not playing. Then had a very, very good game against Sydney. I thought okay now he’ll start getting momentum.”

It is a blow for Tilio, who showed signs of his quality with a stunning goal against Sydney FC in Round 18.

Before his temporary return to City, the Australia international had only managed 27 minutes of action under Brendan Rodgers at Celtic.

“He is obviously disappointed and frustrated. It’s been a tough year. Unfortunately these the things that can happen in your career. He is still 22, a long way to go in his career,” Vidmar added.

“You’re going to have these bumpy periods. When players make it to the top, it’s not linear. There’s a hell of a lot of ups and downs in a career. He is pretty headstrong. All he can do is rehab it and get back as quick as possible.”

‘They definitely deserve it’

The Olyroos announced their extended 26-man squad for this month’s West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) Under-23 Championship and three Sydney FC players have been included.

Sky Blues trio Jake Girdwood-Reich, Jordan Courtney-Perkins, Corey Hollman are among 16 Isuzu UTE A-League-based players in the squad set to descend on Saudi Arabia for the WAFF tournament between March 18-26. 

Girdwood-Reich has established himself in a Sydney team taking the competition by storm with their relentless high pressing, scoring one goal in 19 appearances.

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Hollman has featured in 14 A-Leagues games, while Courtney-Perkins has struck twice in 17 appearances from full-back.

“They definitely deserve it. They’ve worked hard with us,” Sydney head coach Ufuk Talay said prior to Sunday’s match at home to Brisbane Roar.

“With national teams, it doesn’t matter what age groups you play, it’s always an hour and a privilege to represent your country.

“It’s what you do in club space that earns you that position to play for the national team.

“Jakey, Jordy and Corey have been doing very well. They’ve had consistent minutes. For us as a club, we’re very proud to send our players to represent our country.”

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Chiefy at a loss to explain hoodoo

It has been 4,090 days since Wellington Phoenix last won a match against Melbourne City AAMI Park.

You have to go back to December 2012 for when they last celebrated a victory against the club at that venue in Melbourne.

Wellington top the standings and have a chance to snap that hoodoo this weekend.

“The tough part is the fact we’ve found it difficult to win there for so long. I’m not sure if it’s a mental thing,” head coach Giancarlo Italiano said.

“I don’t think it’s the travel because we’ve played other teams at other parks and won. I’m not sure what it is but hopefully we can change it.”

He added: “I’ve travelled there many times before. It’s a hard place to play. I always find the Melbourne Victory games the hardest just because of the atmosphere. They have a good fanbase and they’re very loud.

“Even the City fans when they show up… it can be an intimidating place. We’ve had some big games there. Again, it’s the same normal pitch for both teams.”

Where Popa wants Victory to improve

Last weekend, Melbourne Victory were condemned to back-to-back defeats after losing away to Brisbane Roar.

It was Victory’s first away defeat of the season, while it left the title hopefuls with just one win in nine games.

Victory could potentially end the round clinging onto a spot in the top six and coach Tony Popovic is determined to see improvement in one key area when his side visit Adelaide United on Saturday night.

“Work rate,” he told reporters. “That’s something we can control.

“Very rarely have I thought that an opponent has outworked us this season and Brisbane Roar certainly did.

“We have to get that back.”

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