Two sides with a similar playing philosophy will go head to head on Sunday afternoon as Adelaide United travel to Melbourne City in what is a prelude to Wednesday night’s FFA Cup Final involving the same opponents.
Gertjan Verbeek insists the team is only focused on their league match tomorrow and is anticipating a difficult contest, with the Reds also not beating City at AAMI Park since April 2016.
The two teams met three times during pre-season, two of the friendlies involving full-strength sides with the results split.
Verbeek admitted City are a dangerous team under new coach Erick Mombaerts.
“It’s a good team, they have good players, they have a good idea of football,” he told reporters at Adelaide Airport on Saturday.
“It’s quite different from last year I understand. Once (in pre-season) we have won and one we lost.
“So I’m excited to see how the guys are doing now. Of course we have some problems in the squad – some injuries and also the game on Wednesday is involving the preparation of this game.”
With Jordan Elsey ruled out due to a knee complaint and Ryan Strain suspended, the Dutchman confirmed he will be handing young defender Yared Abetew his professional debut.
Verbeek added he was confident the 20-year-old could do a good job after training with the senior squad all pre-season following a solid season with the Club's Youth Team.
“I didn’t bring him in the squad for nothing,” he explained.
“When I arrived here I want to play 11 against 11, he’s a right defender and mostly plays in the centre.
“But he can also play right-back so I’m convinced that he can do it, otherwise I would’ve had to make other decisions.
“But I think it’s better for the team to do it like this then someone left footed playing on the right side and to change more things in the team.”
The former AZ Alkmaar head coach also discussed his reasoning for leaving James Troisi out of the side.
He believed it was best for the 31-year-old to continue building a strong level of fitness instead of rushing him, to prevent the chance of a potential injury in the future.
“I talked with him about the planning and we’ve a busy week for three games and after that we have a weekend off,” he said.
“… In the end there’s 27 league games and he can’t play in the cup final, so I said it’s better to get a good base for the whole season then force it now for one game and do less training and get injured.
“So he trained full this week and also next week he’ll train fully because he can’t join us in the final, and maybe then for the away game (against Newcastle Jets) and then we still have a weekend and will be ready to start in the team.”
Verbeek further confirmed Mirko Boland (hamstring) and George Blackwood (hip) would not be travelling, with the latter pulling up sore in training on Tuesday and will not be risked.
Adelaide United face Melbourne City in Round 2 of the Hyundai A-League 2019/20 season on Sunday, 20 October at AAMI Park. Kick-off is at 3.30pm ACDT. Live and Exclusive on Fox Sports, Kayo Sports and the My Football Live App.