Culina's nervous wait

Gold Coast coach Miron Bleiberg has revealed Jason Culina may not play again this season as the United skipper might need surgery on a chronic knee injury.

Gold Coast coach Miron Bleiberg has revealed Jason Culina may not play again this season as the United skipper might need surgery on a chronic knee injury.

The Qantas Socceroos and Gold Coast midfielder had been being nursed through the season by his club throughout the first part of the campaign.

But having played several games in a short period of time for Australia at the AFC Asian Cup in Qatar, the injury has flared up, forcing Culina to leave the national squad and head back to Queensland to see what needs to be done.

""He (Culina) weighs his options," Bleiberg said on Friday, saying the 30-year-old would see the specialist next week.

"(His options will be) whether it be surgery (now) or whether he can play and do the surgery later on if he can bear it and it's not causing any damage."

"And, the third option, maybe he doesn't need surgery, he has six or seven months lay off you know."

If Culina does have surgery on his knee it would all-but end his season, but the midfielder is relatively confident it won't be necessary.

"I've got an appointment with the specialist next week so it all depends on what they say but I feel good," Culina told the Gold Coast Bulletin.

Regardless of whether Culina is available or not, Bleiberg has dismissed suggestions his side is out of contention for second spot on the ladder and the coveted double chance as they prepare to face Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park on Sunday.

United sit fourth with 42 points - four behind third-placed Adelaide and five behind second-placed Central Coast, but they hold a game in hand over each of them and will welcome both sides to Skilled Park in the next fortnight.

At the same time, both the Mariners and Reds also face off on Saturday night in another blockbuster clash as the league braces itself for perhaps a finals-defining round.

Although it may seem the finals are imminent, United still have several games to play in just a few weeks, Bleiberg saying it would be foolish to assume things will remain the way they are.

"We have five games and 15 points left to play for so we have quite a big chunk left," Bleiberg said.

"None of them are easy, especially now. But I would like to think there is still a twist left in the season. Beside the fact that we are fourth, all the rest of the ingredients are in our favour."

In their last hitout, United clinically dismantled Newcastle 5-1, with Bruce Djite bagging a hat-trick in front of nearly 15,000 fans on the Glitter Strip in a memorable night for the fledgling club.

But Bleiberg said that with the season the way it is, it will be desperation rather than confidence from past results that will fuel their efforts to jump back into calculations for the top two.

"It's not a matter of confidence, it's a matter of not having a choice. If we want to aim for the top two we have to win almost all of the games left," Bleiberg said.

"It's a very hectic schedule. I said from day one that it will be the survival of the fittest in our team and between the teams."

"When teams have injuries and are missing players, that's not an excuse. The Roar are starting to hit their cycle of injuries but it won't prevent them from finishing first. Maybe it will hit them in the finals. We are in a relatively good position."

Bleiberg is also breathing a sigh of relief after the suspension of Victory captain Kevin Muscat, rubbed out for eight weeks after his horror tackle on Heart's Adrian Zahra. The United boss believes Muscat's on-field leadership will be sorely missed by the Victorian side.

"Whenever key players for the opposition don't play for whatever reason, it makes your job easier. Muscat is a leader and they've played with him for most of the games in the past six years." he said.

"He's a smart player and his quick free kicks have caused us problems in the past. From a footballing point of view, he's a good player and it's a relief."