New Sydney FC coach Frank Farina faces a welcome selection headache as several stars return for the city’s second A-League derby on Saturday.
Farina made a winning start to his tenure as Sky Blues coach as an understrength side secured a valuable 2-1 win over Wellington in New Zealand on Sunday.
Marquee star Alessandro Del Piero missed the match with a hamstring strain but is a chance to return against Western Sydney at Allianz Stadium.
Socceroos Brett Emerton and Terry Antonis will also re-join the squad on Wednesday and Farina must decide how to accommodate the returning players as he weighs up how much to tinker with a winning side, if at all.
Farina was highly impressed with the performance of youngster Blake Powell up front and felt the performance had shown the Sky Blues’ depth.
“You’ve got to have that in your squad and sometimes players will step up,” Farina said.
“I thought the younger ones stepped up and did that.”
Rhyan Grant also impressed pushing up further into a midfield role, giving Farina plenty to ponder against the Wanderers.
Italian superstar Del Piero remained in Sydney over the weekend but did some work on the training paddock and could return to full training with the team later this week.
The win over the Phoenix moved last-placed Sydney alongside reigning champions Brisbane on 10 competition points and a tightly-bunched field means a win against the Wanderers could lift them into the top six.
“It’s a very crucial game,” Grant said on Monday.
“We’re only three points off the Wanderers who are in fourth, so if we can get the win we’ll be right back up there.”
Sydney will be without midfielder Terry McFlynn after he picked up two yellow cards in the win but Jason Culina is set to start for the second successive game after impressing Farina.
“It was the Jason of old and he’ll just get better,” Farina said of the former Socceroo, who played 60 minutes.
Sydney triumphed in the sides’ first derby in October, winning 1-0 at Parramatta Stadium.