SYDNEY FC coach Frank Farina may have to make up to three changes to his starting line-up for Saturday’s trip to face Newcastle, with Brett Emerton likely to be ruled out with injury.
Scans for Emerton’s back problem have been delayed and he won’t receive them until Wednesday. He has not trained so far this week.
It was in Newcastle last season that Emerton broke down during the first half. Having seen Emerton leave the field early in the 3-1 loss against Melbourne Victory last week, it is almost certain he will not play.
Emerton will join centre-half Tiago Calvano and left-back Fabio on the sidelines. Both players were shown two yellow cards against the Victory, meaning Farina will have to dig deep into his squad to find the necessary replacements. The most straightforward swap will be the inclusion Adam Griffiths for Calvano, with Griffiths finally regaining fitness after suffering from a knee injury that has kept him sidelined since the New Year’s Eve clash against Adelaide United.
”The last injury was a knock on the knee and it was disappointing because I tried to play [against Adelaide] but wasn’t right,” Griffiths said. ”Now I’ve made sure it’s right so it doesn’t happen again.
”Hopefully I can kick on now and get some form coming into the finals. I’m feeling good, feeling sharp again, so I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
With the Sky Blues in the middle of a six-way scramble for the final two places in the top six, every game is crucial, especially when they come up another team fighting for a finals berth. ”I think it’s been for a while now that we’ve needed to win most games, ”Griffiths said. ”This game is no different. Every game is important from here on in. I think every team in the league is beatable, and that’s why it’s such a good league.”
Griffiths came on in the second half against the Victory and praised Ange Postecoglou’s side as the competition’s benchmark.
”I don’t think it was just the defence [that let Sydney down] – I think we weren’t as strong as we were as a unit as we were against Wellington, but Melbourne are a much better team,” he said. ”Full credit to them, they’re a much better team [than us]. That’s the level we have to get up to if we want to be competing in the finals.”
The change of coach from Ian Crook – who signed Griffiths – to new boss Farina hasn’t been easy on the 33-year-old but he’s confident they can work together.
”It’s been a little bit difficult with a change of coach and new personnel and different partnerships all the time, but there’s no real excuses,” he said. ”We all just have to work together. We’ve got the majority of the team that’s fit now, and we’re starting to find some rhythm again and looking forward to the remainder of the season.
”It’s been tough but very positive, and I find that our team has more of a unity and solidarity now. We’re working well together here.”
The combination of Griffiths and his twin brother Joel was a mainstay of Newcastle during the early years of the A-League and the pair combined to lead the Jets to the 2007-08 title.
However, only the duo’s younger brother, Ryan, is left flying the Griffiths’s family flag in the Hunter, with Adam putting it bluntly: ”I’m going to get into him, that’s for sure.
”It’s always good to play against your old team, especially when you have good memories there,” he said. ”The fans are always brilliant up in Newcastle; they’ve stuck by their team through good times and bad. But now I’m with the Sky Blues and everything’s for them and we’re wanting to beat Newcastle on Saturday.
”It’s going to be a tough match. Both teams are fighting for the finals and looking to get the three points.”
Equally tough will be the threat presented by Jets striker Emile Heskey, who found his way back into the scoring charts in the 1-1 draw against Wellington Phoenix.
”He’s a great player. He’s strong – as you saw with that goal – the goalkeeper came out to get it and he bullied him into putting the ball into the back of the net,” Griffiths said.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.