Koren to make derby debut

John van ‘t Schip says Robert Koren could make his long-awaited Melbourne City debut in the derby against Melbourne Victory on Saturday night.

Koren, 34, has been sidelined since picking up a calf injury ahead of City’s opening game of the season away to Sydney FC in October.

A setback suffered early in his rehabilitation extended the Slovenia international’s spell on the sidelines, but Van ‘t Schip is now finally able to pick the former Hull City and West Bromwich Albion man.

“Robi Koren’s going to be part of the squad,” the Dutchman said.

“He’s just come back from 11, 12 weeks not playing. He’s going to be involved, whether he’s going to be playing from the start or coming in (off the bench), we’ll have to see tomorrow.

“He can’t play 90 minutes, so we have to see what’s the best (option), we have to build him up these coming weeks now to make sure in the second half of the league he’s able to play from the beginning to the end, 90 minutes. It’s not going to happen in the coming games.”

City have struggled for goals without their international marquee player and although he may only make a cameo appearance against Victory at AAMI Park, the attacking midfielder is expected to ease some of the goal-scoring burden being carried – at times unconvincingly – by Mate Dugandzic and David Williams.

“Robi is a player who, out of the midfield, creates and scores,” Van ‘t Schip said.

“That’s why we brought him in. That’s what we needed looking at the team (from) last year. Him being injured, not being there, didn’t help us (earlier this season).”

It’s not all good news for City, with another forward, Irish veteran Damien Duff, out of the derby with a calf problem of his own.

Van ‘t Schip though expects the two-time English Premier League winner to be in contention for the home game against league leaders Perth Glory next Friday.

“Hopefully he can be back next week,” the City coach said.

“He already did a session yesterday, too early for the derby but he’s making very good progress.”

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