Michael Marrone believes a win for Adelaide United over the Western Sydney Wanderers at ANZ Stadium will essentially act as a six-pointer given the proximity of the Hyundai A-League table.
Just three points separate the fourth-placed Reds and the Wanderers who lie in sixth.
Adelaide produced a comprehensive 3-0 away victory over Perth Glory last time out and will look to make it back-to-back road wins for the second time this season on Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, the Wanderers are also beginning to show signs of gelling under Josep Gombau as they notched a second consecutive triumph courtesy of a 2-0 win in Brisbane against the Roar.
Marrone discussed his role in the side after returning to the starting XI against Perth for the first time in three matches.
“I’m starting to get back into the team now and that’s been good,” he told reporters at Adelaide Airport.
“But I think the coaches have used a lot of players this year to good effect and had young boys come in and do well and rightfully so they’ve kept their place.
“So I think it’s just good for competition.”
The 30-year-old has recently been behind Ryan Strain in the pecking order following the emergence of the youngster.
Marrone dismissed suggestions there was a rivalry, reminiscing on the time he broke through to the senior squad, and stated he was impressed with Strain’s performances.
“I think I just try and think back to when I was coming through,” he said.
“I was with the Youth Team when I made my first-team appearance and it was through injury and suspension when I got my chance.
“That’s how I think of it and I think it’s a great opportunity that Ryan Strain has come up and done extremely well.
“I couldn’t be happier for him because that’s exactly what happened when I came through.”
In the pair’s most recent meeting back in Round 8, a Ryan Kitto brace handed Adelaide a convincing 2-0 home win.
Having watched WSW use a new formation under Gombau, Marrone admitted he is not entirely sure how they will line-up.
“They’ve had a difficult transition initially and he’s tried a few players in a few different positions,” he said.
“And tactically we saw them set up with a 4-4-2 last week and obviously got the result against Brisbane, so it’ll be interesting to see if they do that again against us.”
Marrone also took stock of Adelaide’s campaign after reaching the halfway stage of the season, before stressing the significance of picking up victories.
“We are in the top six at the moment,” he said.
“And considering some of the injuries we have had and I guess recently we have had some of the Olyroos boys travel away, it’s good to be sitting equal fourth at the moment.
“… When there’s teams so close it’s almost like you can leapfrog the teams around you.
“And I think Western Sydney are only a win away from being level with us, so it’s definitely important to get a result over there.”
Daniel Adlung has been named in the squad despite suffering a back complaint which forced him off the field before half-time against Perth. Meanwhile, George Blackwood, Paul Izzo and Ben Garuccio are again missing through Olyroos duty. Vince Lia remains absent with a knee injury and Nathan Konstandopoulos is out with Lachlan Brook promoted as a result.
Last five meetings
2-0 win @ Coopers Stadium
2-2 draw @ Coopers Stadium
0-0 draw @ Spotless Stadium
1-2 loss @ Coopers Stadium
3-1 win @ Adelaide Oval
Adelaide United will face Western Sydney Wanderers in Round 15 of the Hyundai A-League 2017/18 season on Wednesday, 10 January at ANZ Stadium. Kick-off is at 7.20pm ACDT.