Sydney FC boss Graham Arnold expects ‘adrenaline’ to help get his players through when they take on EPL side Newcastle United in Dunedin, though Kiwi star Shane Smeltz will sit out the clash on Tuesday night.
The Sky Blues are just four weeks into their pre-season schedule but will step-up their preparations against the EPL club as part of the Football United Tour which also includes West Ham and Wellington Phoenix.
Sydney’s preparations have been hampered by snow and extreme cold in Dunedin, making it extra difficult to be ready to face Alan Pardew’s side.
“I don’t think we’re 100 percent ready for it, far from it, but I expect adrenaline to hit in tomorrow night,” Arnold told reporters on Monday.
“The boys should get through on freshness as well. We’re probably not fit enough for 90 minutes but it’s a great opportunity for them.
“To go up against two Premier League clubs in the next week, of course it’s early stages for both clubs, it’s a pre-season exhibition game but one that gives the players a great opportunity to impress.”
Being so early in the pre-season, the former Socceroos boss said he would take no risks with players carrying injuries, meaning Kiwi international Shane Smeltz won’t play against Newcastle.
Smeltz is only a couple of days back into full training as he recovers from a calf strain, although Arnold expects him to be right to face West Ham on the weekend.
While Newcastle possess some world class talent in their squad Arnold, who has just taken the reins at Sydney for the new season, says the focus is only on what his players can deliver.
“We haven’t analyzed Newcastle too much, it’s all about us,” Arnold conceded.
“I’m new to the job, getting to know the players for myself, getting to see their strengths and weaknesses.
“We’ve been working hard on our structures and tactics as long as they carry out the instructions for what we’ve done up to date that’s the main thing.”
Sky Blues defender Nikola Petkovic says the players are excited to test themselves against an EPL club and has praised Arnold’s influence around the team since taking charge.
“It’s very good. Everything’s positive around the club,” the Serbian defender said.
“It’s completely different to last year and I hope it will be a much better season than last.
“(This tournament) will be very tough for us against two big teams to play from the Premier League, the best league in the world and we really appreciate to come here.
“This is a good test for us, our first big test against one of the top teams (in the EPL) and we hope to give our best tomorrow and it shows in our performance.”