Gold Coast United eyeing third place

Third place on the Hyundai A-League table is the carrot for Gold Coast United when they play their penultimate fixture against Central Coast Mariners at Skilled Park on Wednesday evening.

Third place on the Hyundai A-League table is the carrot for Gold Coast United when they play their penultimate fixture against Central Coast Mariners at Skilled Park on Wednesday evening.

A win for Miron Bleiberg's men will see them move to 49 points, leapfrogging Adelaide United (47 points) into outright third place with one game to play.

However to stay in third, or possibly even progress to second, an injury-hit Gold Coast will have to overcome the might of local rival and Premiership winner Brisbane Roar in the final game of the season.

Having finished third last year, United are only too aware of the perils that position brings, having been knocked out in the first week of the finals by Newcastle United.

But if Gold Coast were to progress through that tricky first week of play-offs, the advantage of finishing third would come into its own by guaranteeing another home semi-final in week two.

Although ending the season as runners-up is out of Gold Coast's hands, it still remains a mathematical possibility although United will need to win their final two matches and hope Central Coast slip up when they play Newcastle Jets on Sunday.

"The calculation is very simple; third place is in our hands," said Gold Coast Head Coach Miron Bleiberg.

"If we can win our next two games we will finish at least third. We want to finish as high as possible and we will be going for it in both matches."

"It's also very important to go into the finals series with the right momentum so we have two good reasons to secure another win on Wednesday evening."

"Even teams who can't improve their position on the ladder will want to end the season on a high so they can take that form into the finals. It's very important because wins breed wins, and losses breed losses," he said.

If Gold Coast are to overhaul Adelaide and move into third, they will need to do it without up to eight first team players, such is their current injury toll.

Jason Culina, Joel Porter, Bruce Djite, Bas van den Brink, John Curtis, Robson and James Brown are all sidelined, with Golgol Mebrahtu's name now added to the list after the youngster sustained a shoulder injury in Sunday's win over Perth.

Of the players currently on the treatment table, Dutch midfielder van den Brink is the closest to a return on Wednesday night, with Djite a chance to face Brisbane Roar on Saturday.

"I have declared from day one that squad depth and a bit of luck will count for a lot this season," said Bleiberg.

"At the moment we have a very long injury list with eight first team players out and a handful of our fringe players also suffering from injuries."

"But it would be hypocrisy if I was to complain about it after what I said earlier in the season," the coach added, when referring to when he asked why commentators were not criticising Melbourne Heart during a bad injury run.

"So we just have to do the best we can and I am confident we still have enough about us to get the job done," he declared.