Possible call-up: Sydney FC Youth player George Timotheou could be on the big stage. Photo: Melissa AdamsSydney FC coach Graham Arnold brushed off concerns over his club’s defensive crisis for Saturday night’s derby, suggesting Western Sydney Wanderers will struggle to get a shot on target against his high-flying side.
Never one to shy from pre-game mind games, Arnold deflected concerns of fielding an inexperienced defender in the biggest home game of his club’s season – instead heaping more pressure on the Wanderers’ problematic attack that has plagued their season.
A 19-year-old untested central defender could be thrown into Sydney FC’s starting line-up due to injuries, suspension and player sales depleting their back line, but Arnold believes it won’t have much of an impact on his team’s collective defensive shape.
Whether?teenagers Patrick Flottmann, George Timotheou?or 21-year-old Aaron Calver partner Alex Wilkinson on Saturday night, Arnold doesn’t envisage the reshuffle causing a busy night for goalkeeper Danny Vukovic, who has leaked fewer goals than any other shot stopper this season.
“Our defence starts from the front, we’ve got a brick wall, we’ve conceded seven goals in 14 games and again our defence starts from the front, we’ve had many games where Danny Vukovic hasn’t had to make a save and the same will happen on Saturday night,” Arnold said.
The Sky Blues are holding out little hope of signing a foreign defender in time to face the Wanderers and are set to continue their search for Matt Jurman’s replacement into another week. An injury to Seb Ryall is expected to sideline the defender for a number of weeks and prompted Sydney to fast-track their recruitment of another central defender.
The club was linked with Czech international defender Tomas Sivok, former Newcastle United man Steven Taylor and Australian-born Greek international Avraam Papadopolous. Sydney will instead look at other options during the January transfer window including their ongoing bid to sign Australian international Rhys Williams, who won’t be released by Perth Glory despite being on the outer.
“It seems that Rhys is unhappy. It’s clear he’s not playing over there and for me Rhys is a national team player,” Arnold said.?“Would we like to have him? Yeah if they don’t want him we’d love to have him, but it’s out of our hands.”
The inability to bring in a visa-player in time for Saturday’s derby hampered Sydney’s hopes of deploying midfielder Brandon O’Neill?as a makeshift stopper with his regular partner Josh Brillante suspended,?leaving the club’s midfield stocks?bare. O’Neill played the majority of last week’s match against Central Coast Mariners at centre-back and, while earning praise from his coach, Arnold reaffirmed his faith in his young central defenders?Flottmann, Timotheou and Calver – who only recently returned from a lengthy injury layoff – to step into such a big occasion.
“We’ve got some fantastic under-20 kids. Patrick Flottmann and George Timotheou ?who are international players. They’ve been waiting for their?chance for a long, long time. They’ve worked extremely hard in training. They’re part of the youth team that won six trophies last year. They’re very successful in what they do,” Arnold said. “Brandon O’Neill played in the back line showing what he can do,?Aaron Calver is back who’s got a lot of experience in the A-League for his age.”
Sydney are in a rich vein of form in front of goal having scored 13 goals as they won their last four games, three of which were away from home. Their attacking stocks are set to receive a further boost with the return of?captain Alex Brosque?to the starting line-up after serving a one-game suspension.
“Alex Brosque, our captain, is back and he’s such a wonderful leader, such a wonderful player. He brings another 10-15 per cent out in all our players. We’re down one player suspended, they’re down two players suspended. They’ve got a couple of injuries, we’ve got one injury so were in good shape,” Arnold said.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.