Finals start early for A-League’s Roar

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    A question mark may hover over Brisbane Roar’s defensive structure ahead of their crunch A-League clash with an equally desperate Melbourne Heart at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.

    However, Roar coach Mike Mulvey says their goal is crystal clear with two regular season games left ahead of the finals.

    “The way we are looking at it the regular season is over. We are in cup final mode now,” he said on Friday.

    A loss for seventh-placed Brisbane (29 points) would not end the defending champions’ top six hopes but the same can’t be said for the Heart (9th; 27pts).

    However, Mulvey said he would settle for nothing less than a win despite the huge hole left by key defender Jade North due to Socceroos duty.

    “Something that Brisbane has been good at in the past is playing finals football and it is starting a few weeks early,” he said.

    “We are approaching the game as if it is a must-win situation.

    “To us it is a knockout final and the prize is pretty big.

    “This weekend there is no room for the faint-hearted.”

    Mulvey was not so forthcoming about the make-up of his reshuffled defence.

    The Roar coach may be forced to thrust out-of-favour Matt Jurman into the line-up after North was selected for the World Cup qualifier against Oman in Sydney on Tuesday.

    Jurman has not played since being hooked in the Roar’s 2-2 draw with Central Coast on February 1.

    Asked if he had decided who would replace North, Mulvey said: “Yes I have”.

    Asked if Jurman would fill the role, Mulvey said: “Perhaps.

    “There is still a couple of more sleeps to go but I know what is going to happen.”

    Melbourne Heart are unbeaten in their last five matches against the Roar.

    © AAP 2017
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