Sydney FC coach Steve Corica believes his ageing group of key players is more fine wine than expired milk.
The Sky Blues will once again rely heavily on star names such as Milos Ninkovic (36), Bobo (36), Alex Wilkinson (37) and Adam Le Fondre (34) in their quest to regain top spot in the A-League Men this season.
Socceroos pair Rhyan Grant and Andrew Redmayne are both the wrong side of 30, as is Michael Zullo and Luke Brattan, while fellow first-choice regulars such as Paulo Retre, Anthony Caceres and recruit James Donachie are all in their late 20s.
As far as Corica is concerned however age is just a number and he’s seen no reason to suggest experience cannot continue to pay dividends.
“Experience always helps, with any team,” Corica said.
“Bobo finished top scorer last year, Ninko won the Johnny Warren Medal and Wilkinson won our player of the year – he played every minute pretty much of every game.
“They might be a little bit older in the tooth but a lot of experience and their bodies are really good at the moment.
“We’ll see how time goes but obviously if we give them enough rest in between, during the week, get them fresh for the games, they’ll be great this year.”
Sydney begin their season this Saturday with a derby clash at CommBank Stadium against Western Sydney.
The Wanderers are desperate to deliver after missing out on finals in Welshman Carl Robinson’s first season at the helm but Corica’s team have no lack of motivation either.
Finishing second on the ladder to Melbourne City before missing out on a three-peat of grand final wins to the same opposition is clearly fuelling Sydney for the upcoming campaign.
“We fell a little bit short, finished second and obviously we lost the grand final as well. That’s always going to hurt us a little bit,” Corica said.
“Obviously we want to win trophies, that’s why people come here, that’s what we expect from our players.
“That’s no different this year.”
Saturday’s derby will be the first of three games in a week in a hectic start to the campaign, with an FFA Cup clash against Sydney Olympic on Wednesday before hosting Macarthur FC next weekend.
“It’s a big week. There’s a lot of game time there for everyone to be shared around just to make sure that we’ve got fresh bodies on the pitch,” Corica said.