Bleiberg eyes tired Mariners

Gold Coast United boss Miron Bleiberg is hoping Central Coast's packed schedule of two games in four days will take its toll as his side aims to leapfrog them when the two sides clash on Sunday afternoon at Bluetongue Stadium.

Gold Coast United boss Miron Bleiberg is hoping Central Coast's packed schedule of two games in four days will take its toll as his side aims to leapfrog them when the two sides clash on Sunday afternoon at Bluetongue Stadium.

A fresh and relaxed United trained Friday at their TSS base with a positive mood coming from the dressing room in the hope the Mariner's hard-fought 2-2 draw away to Melbourne Victory on Thursday will assist them in their mission for three points.

Gold Coast haven't been beaten in 10 matches and Bleiberg is hoping his side have picked the best opportunity to face the Mariners, who are one of the form teams of the Hyundai A-League.

"As you can hear from the noise, the mood is good. It's a mood of a team who hasn't experienced a loss in many, many weeks and the mood of a team that is well-coached," Bleiberg joked.

"We are fresh, and by purpose you can see the training today and tomorrow is more fun than hard work and I'm trying to keep our boys fresh to give them as much advantage as possible."

But given the Mariners' resilient attitude and their good form in dismantling Wellington Phoenix 3-0 at the weekend, combined with their come-from-behind draw with Melbourne, Bleiberg is expecting one of the toughest matches his men will face this season.

"I thought we were on top of the world when we went to Wellington and drew 3-3, but they went there and did such a magnificent job which shows you that they are one of the teams to beat," he said.

"They are well-organised, well-coached and they're playing good football. But they're human beings, not machines, and I would like to think the effort they put in yesterday will hurt them on Sunday."

Gold Coast will be forced to make do without defensive lynchpin Michael Thwaite, who suffered an ankle injury in last Friday's 3-1 triumph over Sydney FC that will rule him out of the United side for the first time ever, ending a remarkable run of 41 matches.

Thwaite has played in every minute of every Gold Coast match since the club's inception at the start of last season. Given United's stingy back four has been the foundation of the side's successful season a re-shuffle comes at an inopportune time with a trip to Adelaide next for United after the Mariners match.

While Bleiberg believes no time is a good time to lose Thwaite he is confident in his team's depth, which may well be tested over the next fortnight.

"Every game is important - if he missed next week would it be the same? There will be injuries and in January there will be players like Jason Culina who will leave us for the Asian Cup. I maintained from day one that it's always about depth and you see now, you see every second day, teams like Newcastle are recruiting players and trying to play catch-up," he said.

"I think that we are well prepared - we already use around 26 players because we use some players who are from the youth team and we're still near the top. With Michael, it's unexpected but that's life."