“The Chase’ begins to the Hyundai A-League Finals Series with five more huge matches in rebel Play Football Round, kicking off with Friday night’s clash between Sydney FC and Wellington Phoenix.
We’ve picked out five stars who are back in action this week and are likely to make an impact for their respective squads.
The Spaniard returns this week after missing his side’s 1-0 win over the Phoenix in Wellington last Saturday through suspension.
One of the best performers in the competition so far this season, Isaias’ leadership and ability to control the tempo of the match with and without the ball will be crucial as the Reds hope to chase down the top four by getting a win over Perth Glory at Coopers Stadium.
Leroy George (Victory)
The Dutchman was sorely missed in the Australia Big Blue, with a hamstring injury keeping him out of the 3-1 loss to Sydney FC.
But the winger - who currently leads the assists in the Hyundai A-League with 11 - will be welcomed back with open arms for Victory’s huge away clash with second-place Newcastle Jets in the Hunter.
Roy O’Donovan (Jets)
Another huge in for the clash at McDonald Jones stadium sees the Irish striker return for Ernie Merrick’s men after almost three months out with a groin injury.
O’Donovan had seven goals for the campaign before his injury in Round 10 and will thrive at the service from the likes of Pato Rodriguez, Andrew Nabbout and Dimi Petratos.
Chris Ikonomidis (Wanderers)
In a huge boost for the Wanderers’ flailing season, the Caltex Socceroos winger has been named to make his debut after joining the club on loan for the rest of the season from Serie A giants Lazio.
The 22-year-old, who has six caps for Australia, will add pace, trickery and an eye for goal down the flanks for Josep Gombau’s men.
Andrew Hoole (Mariners)
The impressive Hoole was surprisingly left out of the squad for last weekend’s loss at home to Brisbane Roar.
But with winger Kwabena Appiah departing the club, and midfielder Wout Brama suspended, the 24-year-old has been named to return and could be a huge weapon against the Wanderers.