He didn't say the word "hate" but Sydney FC skipper Alex Brosque has vowed a tough and relentless approach by the Sky Blues in Saturday night's blockbuster Sydney Derby against Western Sydney Wanderers.
Brosque infuriated Wanderers fans ahead of the season’s first derby in round one when he revealed he told his team-mates to “hate” the boys in Red and Black.
And he said there’s no reason to change that hardline approach as the Sky Blues look to increase their unbeaten run against their fierce local rivals to nine matches.
“This game for me is the biggest game of the year. All three against the Wanderers are the biggest games. We’re on a good run, we haven’t lost to them in three years and hopefully we can keep that going,” Brosque told reporters on Wednesday.
“The passion and desire we have when it comes to these games, the tone is set in the first five minutes and you can see what it means to our players.
“For this game there won’t be any need to give the players any motivation because we’ve gone into every game regardless of who it’s against, our performances have been relentless and tough.”
And Brosque, 33, says it will be up to Sydney FC’s experienced players to lift their game and help out the youngster called-up to fill the Sky Blues’ defensive crisis for Saturday night’s derby.
Unbeatable and near impenetrable over the first 14 rounds, the Sky Blues suddenly appear a little vulnerable at the back after losing Matt Jurman to the K League and Seb Ryall to injury.
Midfielder Josh Brillante is also suspended, giving coach Graham Arnold a huge selection headache ahead of the clash at Allianz Stadium.
With the club unlikely to secure a defensive signing in time for the match, it’s now almost certain the Sky Blues boss will have to call on an untried rookie for their biggest home match of the season.
“There’ll be a youngster come in and it will be a good chance for him. The young boys in the youth team, these are the chances they want to be given,” Brosque said on Wednesday.
“While it is a huge game to come into and possibly make a debut if it’s one of the newer boys, it will be tough but there’s 10 very experienced players around him that will be able to help him out.
“But we’ve had players come in and out of the squad throughout the year and it hasn’t really mattered. That’s a good sign.”
Who that player might be is still unclear. Much will depend on what Arnold decides to do with Brandon O’Neill, who shifted into central defence against the Mariners on Sunday.
With Brillante out, there’s a good chance O’Neill will be needed to cover in midfield.
And Brosque feels Sydney FC’s young defenders are more than capable of stepping up, with George Timotheou, Patrick Flottman or Aaron Calver all options to partner Alex Wilkinson at in the heart of defence.
“It will be a good opportunity for Arnie to throw in one of the young boys,” said Brosque, who returns from suspension for Saturday’s clash.
“Arnie’s been known to do that in the past, throw young players in that he feels are ready and there’s three or four good young defenders that have been waiting.
“It’s come in unfortunate circumstances but it’s come. Whoever does come in will be ready to go.”