There’s still plenty to play for heading into the final round of the Hyundai A-League 2017/18 Season, with the third place, a top six spot and the wooden spoon all up for grabs.
Throw in a Friday night Big Blue in Sydney and the F3 Derby in Gosford and there’s plenty to get excited about this weekend.
With so much on the line, getting some key personnel back can be a huge boost and we’ve picked out four returning stars who will hope to make the difference for their teams in Round 27.
Rhyan Grant (Sydney FC)
There’s plenty of reasons to celebrate on Friday night for the Sky Blues – with the Premiers’ Plate to be presented at full-time – and the return of Grant is also one of those.
The all-action right-back hasn’t featured in 2017/18 due to an ACL injury suffered in pre-season but has been named in an extended squad to face the Victory.
Grant was one of the Sky Blues’ best last season, scoring in the Grand Final triumph and earning a Caltex Socceroos call-up as well, and it will be great to see him back in action.
Daniel Georgievski (Newcastle Jets)
It’s been a difficult few weeks for the Jets but the return of Georgievski is certain to add some much-needed steel to their defence.
Ernie Merrick’s men have conceded 10 goals in three straight defeats and are in desperate need of a re-boot ahead of the Finals Series.
The versatile and fearsome defender will demand improvement in what should be a spicy F3 Derby.
Michael Thwaite (Western Sydney Wanderers)
The pressure is on the Wanderers to get the result they need to lock-in their finals berth and the addition of the hugely-experienced Thwaite will help their cause.
Thwaite is back after serving a one-game ban as a result of his first-ever red card in the loss to Victory a fortnight ago.
He was bitterly disappointed by that dismissal and will want to repay his teammates with a big performance against the Reds at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.
Kosta Barbarouses (Melbourne Victory)
The Kiwi flyer returns to Victory’s squad after serving his suspension following an uncharacteristic red card against the Wanderers in Round 25.
Barbarouses not only provides a real threat down the flank with his speed and dribbling skills, he also has an eye for goal with eight for the campaign.
His battle with Sydney FC left-back Michael Zullo should be a beauty.