Popovic ponders defensive options for Sydney Derby

Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic says makeshift defensive combinations have been tried in training this week to cover the loss of suspended Spaniard Alberto.

Captain Nikolai Topor-Stanley will lead the defensive rearguard but who partners him is the question Popovic pondered this week. 

“Yesterday we tried a few different combinations with Brendan [Hamill] and Scotty Neville in there,” Popovic told reporters on Friday.

“We’re comfortable with both situations and we’ll make a call on that tomorrow.”

Hyundai A-League preview: Sydney FC v Wanderers

Derby history is against the Wanderers this season. Despite dominating both games they failed to win either.

Sydney FC players celebrate Sasa Ognenovski scoring in last season's Round 2 Sydney Derby.

“The record is there. That’s a fact. We’ve broken many [records] and we’ll try break that one tomorrow too,” added Popovic.

“We’ve become very famous at breaking records and creating many good moments. 

“This is another one we have to create and break this with Sydney FC.

“This is our challenge tomorrow.”

Key data

• Sydney FC is undefeated in the last six Sydney Derbies, including wins in their last three, the longest winning streak of either team in this fixture’s Hyundai A-League history.

• Western Sydney has won four and drawn two of their last seven games away from home in the Hyundai A-League and only once in that span have they been kept to one goal or fewer.

• After back-to-back home losses Sydney FC will be out to prevent a third on the bounce which would equal their longest home losing streak in Hyundai A-League history.

• The derby has sold out with another 40,000 plus crowd expected for one of the biggest days in the Sydney sporting calendar.

“You’d expect it to happen,” added Popovic when asked about breaking his derby hoodoo with a win. 

Wanderers players celebrate Brendon Santalab's late equaliser against Victory.

“But who knows. If it happens tomorrow we’ll be delighted.”

Popovic also said he was happy with today’s news around Wellington Phoenix.

He paid tribute to their coach Ernie Merrick and supported the idea of the club being in the league after Phoenix were given a 10-year extension.