Melbourne Victory are set to call upon their youth for their FFA Cup play-off against Perth Glory as they attempt to juggle the sudden-death match with the start of their A-League Men season.
Victory will travel to Adelaide to play the Glory on Wednesday night, just four nights after their season-opening 1-0 win over Western United and four days before facing Brisbane Roar.
Coach Tony Popovic stressed the importance of managing his players throughout the coming weeks, especially after a pre-season that had no competitive action, due to border restrictions delaying the FFA Cup match.
“We have five players that had played 60 minutes in a match prior to today,” he said.
“So whether they can back up Wednesday and then back up again on the weekend, I doubt.
“We’ll have to see who pulls up well tomorrow at training, we’ve got recovery tomorrow.
“We’ll train Monday and Tuesday before we decide who will travel. But I’d like to think that a lot of the young players will get an opportunity on Wednesday.
“What I’d like to see is that we take confidence from today into that match and the young players amongst the senior players can show their worth.”
Skipper Josh Brillante won’t play after a hamstring niggle ruled him out of Saturday night’s game, with Popovic hoping the midfielder would be ready to face the Roar next Sunday.
Marco Rojas, Robbie Kruse and Francesco Margiotta are among those needing to build game time and could feature more prominently on Wednesday.
“All those players need minutes. Marco’s coming off a long-term injury, Robbie’s come off injuries but has been training well for the last month or so,” Popovic said.
“So we have a lot of players that need fitness. Chris Ikonomidis has had two quarantines in this pre-season. He’s a very fit player, very good player, but he needs time as well.
“So we’ll assess every player and we’ll take the best team possible that we feel can represent us well in that match.”
The play-off game for a spot in the round of 32 is being held in Adelaide as border restrictions currently prevent it happening in Perth.
Perth earned home hosting rights by finishing ninth when Victory came 12th last season
Popovic didn’t anticipate any complications in terms of travel, though he acknowledged it was a “fluid situation”
“From what I know of right now, that’s all being taken care of and we don’t have any tight schedules in terms of flying in and out,” he said.