Four crucial players to return for Wanderers' season-defining Sydney Derby - de Marigny
Western Sydney Wanderers are set to receive a huge boost for next Saturday's season-defining Sydney Derby with four reinforcements ready to return for the Red and Black.
Wanderers' interim head coach Jean-Paul de Marigny revealed Keanu Baccus, Patrick Ziegler, Bruce Kamau and Daniel Georgievski are ‘more than likely’ to be available for the third and final derby of the 2019/20 Hyundai A-League campaign.
Olyroos star and local boy Baccus missed his side’s 1-0 derby triumph on February 28 and the following fixtures against Brisbane Roar (3-1 defeat on March 6) and Melbourne City (1-1 draw last night) but is in the mix-up for de Marigny’s side.
Kamau is raring for a return after he was substituted with injury in that win over Sydney last month, while Patrick Ziegler and Daniel Georgievski, who was sent off against the Sky Blues, are returning from suspension.
It comes following a 1-1 draw with Melbourne City on Saturday night which keeps the eighth-placed Wanderers two points off a top six berth – although seventh-placed Adelaide United could make that a five-point deficit if they defeat Newcastle Jets today.
De Marigny also outlined one key area where the Red and Black must improve ahead of what he agreed was a do-or-die trio of matches against Sydney, Western United and Perth Glory.
“I think that there's one area that we can do better and that is being better at retaining the ball for longer periods of time,” he said.
“That's something we'll continue to work on. In terms of where we're going and what we're trying to do at the football club, that is one of our goals to get into finals football.
“That's what we'll continue to do.”
The numbers tally with de Marigny’s assessment. In their last three matches, the Wanderers have averaged a possession count of 34%.
And although 11 points gained from the last six fixtures demonstrate improvement from the 2014 AFC Champions League winners under the 56-year-old’s charge, it is difficult to see the club emerging from the next spell of fixtures with their top-six hopes intact if they are not able to improve in this sense.
On a night where the 20-year-old scored his maiden Hyundai A-League goal, de Marigny reserved praise for Tate Russell.
Russell, who is the son of the former Illawarra Steelers rugby league star Ian Russell, finished off an excellent Wanderers move to open the scoring at AAMI Park.
“We give all the players the freedom to play football,” said de Marigny.
“I just love it when he's positive and he's aggressive. He's got a lot of qualities.
“He's progressing really well. I think he's come a long way in 18 months.”
We were too slow - Mombaerts
Erick Mombaerts could not hide his frustration at City's 1-1 draw with the Wanderers.
City were coming into the game on the high of last Sunday's 3-2 win over Perth Glory but could not capitalise on the chance to make up ground on Sydney FC, with the leaders drawing a blank against Glory earlier on Saturday.
Mombaerts' side dominated the possession count 64%-36% and outshot the Red and Black 16-6 however, perhaps jaded from last Sunday's exploits in WA, were unable to match that intensity.
"We had possession, especially in the first half, but today our tactical decision-making was too slow. Maybe one or to touches more," he said.
"When you face a defensive block like that, our combined movement has to be accurate and also we need to combine better in the small area.
Mombaerts was particularly annoyed by a golden chance Lachlan Wales missed on 11 minutes after the forward was unable to direct Craig Noone's cross goalward.
"He has to score in this situation," he said.
The Frenchman confirmed captain Scott Jamieson, who was replaced on the 72 minute mark, sustained an ankle injury although Mombaerts was unsure of its severity.
Western Sydney Wanderers v Sydney FC
Saturday, 21 March
Kick-off: 7.30pm AEDT
Central Coast Mariners v Melbourne City
Friday, 20 March
Central Coast Stadium
Kick off: 7.30pm AEDT