City duo return for Friday clash with Phoenix

Long-term Melbourne City absentees James Brown and Marc Marino will make the trip to play Wellington Phoenix as they both look to play their first Hyundai A-League games this season.

Brown (foot) and Marino (knee) have been sidelined for the entirety of the 2015-16 A-League campaign so far, but the attacking duo will be included in John van ‘t Schip’s squad to face Phoenix on Friday night.

Speaking before City’s flight to New Zealand on Thursday, Van ‘t Schip explained that Brown and Marino have impressed at training over the past month to earn a spot in City’s squad.

Marc Marino

“So they’re both in and [Wade] Dekker and [Steve] Kuzmanovski I’ve left out,” the Dutch coach said.

“So giving those two boys an opportunity – they’ve been doing well at training the last few weeks, both coming from periods of injury – and I think at this moment they both deserve a chance to be with the team.”

But neither Marino, 19, or Brown will start, with Ben Garuccio set to continue as City’s left winger, with Harry Novillo serving the second match of his club-imposed ban.

For Brown, returning to City’s squad will be a particularly satisfying moment, with the 26-year-old’s career having been plagued by injuries.

James Brown

Van ‘t Schip conceded there had been periods during Brown’s rehabilitation from foot surgery in February 2015 where there were genuine fears for the winger’s future as a footballer.

“He had a very unpleasant injury, very difficult to treat and mentally it was not an easy period for him,” Van ‘t Schip said.

“But he coped with it very well, he tried everything, there was a moment that everybody was doubting what was going to happen but he looks back to his fitness again.”

Van ‘t Schip added that centre-back Connor Chapman could be up for selection next week when City host Sydney FC, with the 21-year-old having been out of action since December 12 with a knee injury.

City head to Wellington knowing a win will take the club to the top of the table.

“It helps because it puts pressure on the other teams if you win again… and you have to make sure in this league, which is very close, that you don’t have too many mistakes anymore,” Van ‘t Schip said.