Marco Kurz says his Adelaide United players will need to employ a high-pressing game to nullify the strengths of the Central Coast Mariners at Coopers Stadium on Boxing Day.
The two sides are separated by just two points as the sixth-placed Reds welcome Paul Okon’s seventh-ranked Mariners.
A 93rd minute from Ryan Kitto gave United a 2-1 win over the Gosford-based club in Round 7 and the German tactician expects another tough game.
Last weekend, Adelaide suffered a heart-breaking 2-1 loss to Newcastle Jets, while the Mariners lost 2-0 against Western Sydney Wanderers.
Kurz was thrilled to have Daniel Adlung and Ben Garuccio return from suspension, before revealing influential Danish winger Johan Absalonsen is close to a return.
“He trained the whole week with the team so that’s good news for us,” he said.
“But we’ll decide tomorrow what is the best (decision)… Also in this moment I’ll discuss the decision with the player too.
“But one hundred per cent I think he is ready for the squad for the next game against Brisbane, but for this game maybe it’s too early.”
He also hoped to have Baba Diawara available for the Reds’ trip to Perth Glory in the New Year.
“When Johan (Absalonsen) is back, the only one we’ll miss is Baba, but it’s not a long-term injury,” he added.
“It’s good to know that we have more players available for the three games
“Baba has a strain injury and I hope that he will be fit for the away game in Perth.”
After facing the Newcastle Jets just over a week ago, the players were given two days off during the week on Wednesday and Thursday.
Kurz said he can already tell the rest has had a rejuvenating effect.
“I think it was important the last break from the ten days,” he explained.
“The players had a good recovery and re-set their batteries.
“And that for me is very important, they look fresh and they look very focused for the next two home games.”
The ex-Schalke defender highlighted the significance of claiming three points given how close the two sides currently sit in the standings and if the Reds are to climb up the ladder.
Kurz discussed what his side must do to taste success on Tuesday.
“I think it’s an important game when you see the table it’s very close,” he said.
“I think it’s a team that will build up and play from the back, they’ve good offensive players and we must stay very compact in this game.
“And also we must press very aggressively that they’ve no chance to build up and I’m looking forward and staying positive that we have a good chance to get the points.
“And when you play a successful game against Central Coast, It’s a very good team, then you make the next step to push up in the table and that’s our goal.”
Kurz was delighted to see George Blackwood find some goal scoring form, having netted twice in as many matches.
“It’s a good feeling for me and also for the boy,” he said.
“Because sometimes a striker played well but he scores no goals and then doesn’t feel comfortable.
“But now it’s good to know George can score goals, that’s very important and then we have more options with our strikers and wingers.”
Aforementioned, Ben Garuccio and Daniel Adlung return from one-match suspensions. However, Ersan Gülüm has been ruled out due to the accumulation of five yellow cards with Kurz confirming Taylor Regan will likely replace the 30-year-old. Johan Absalonsen is an outside chance to be included in the matchday squad, after returning to training this week. But Kurz said he will take a cautious approach and may include him in the clash against Brisbane Roar four days later.
Last five meetings
1-2 win @ Central Coast Stadium
2-3 win @ Central Coast Stadium
2-1 loss @ GIO Stadium Canberra
1-2 loss @ Coopers Stadium
4-2 win @ Coopers Stadium
Adelaide United host Central Coast Mariners in Round 12 of the Hyundai A-League 2017/18 season on Tuesday, 26 December at Coopers Stadium. Kick-off is at 7.20pm ACDT.