Two of the heroes of the Wanderers A-League derby win over Sydney are not expected to start in Tuesday’s away clash with Melbourne Victory.
Two of Western Sydney’s heroes in last Saturday’s Sydney derby are unlikely to start against Melbourne Victory on Tuesday, when the Wanderers could close to within a point of A-League leaders Brisbane with a win.
Wanderers coach Tony Popovic indicated 16-year-old defender Daniel Alessi, who made an assured debut against Sydney, was unlikely to travel to Melbourne.
He also suggested striker Brendon Santalab, who came off the bench to score the late winner against Sydney, wouldn’t break into the starting side for Tuesday’s game.
Definitely out are midfielders Mateo Poljak (hamstring) and Iacopo La Rocca (shin), who were injured in the warm up and first half respectively on Saturday.
Defender Jerome Polenz will also be unavailable after pulling out on the eve of the Sydney derby with a hamstring issue.
Alessi earned plaudits for his first top-flight appearance, some of them from Popovic, who didn’t want to push the teenager too much.
“I don’t think that’s really fair on the kid; he’s still quite sore from the game,” Popovic said.
“Just physically and emotionally I think it was a lot for the boy, and we’ve got to look after him as well.”
Santalab has scored in three of his last four games, but Popovic felt the striker was still short of full match fitness after having missed several weeks through injury earlier in the season.
“He’s still got a long way to go to where he needs to be physically and he’s had a lot of little niggles with injuries, he would vouch for that himself,” Popovic said.
“He really hasn’t done regular training since he’s been with us.”
Santalab warned of a tough week away for the Wanderers against Victory and then Adelaide.
“We’ve got a big couple of games coming up and its a real test of our depth,” Santalab said.
Popovic was confident his squad had the depth to cover the injuries, especially after the way the team adjusted to the setbacks before and during Saturday’s game.
“The players that came in did a fantastic job,” Popovic said.
“I’ve got full confidence in whoever we play in there will do a job again.”