The Central Coast Mariners' depth will be well and truly tested when they host Perth at Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford on New Year's Eve.
One of Graham Arnold's first missions as Central Coast Mariners coach was to ensure the team had plenty of quality back-up when injury and suspension hit.
That depth will be well and truly tested when the Mariners host Perth at Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford on New Year's Eve.
It will be the first time in weeks the table toppers will go into a match under pressure after skipper John Hutchinson and young gun Tomas Rogic were sent off in Thursday night's 1-0 defeat against Sydney FC.
Throw in the fact striker Daniel McBreen is suspended and it is clear the Mariners have questions to answer.
On the plus side is the return of Pedj Bojic from suspension after the influential right back missed the Sydney defeat.
Arnold will also be hoping veteran defender Patrick Zwaanswijk returns from injury.
With Hutchinson out the Dutch import is a strong chance to lead the team.
"My goal since I got the job at the Mariners was to make sure we had plenty of good depth and I think we have that now, especially with the youngsters going to a different level this season," Arnold said.
While Thursday's loss was only the club's second of the year, there were some worrying signs, especially the lack of discipline in the second half.
Arnold puts a huge emphasis on discipline and it is an aspect of the game that regularly gets discussed in team meetings.
He will also be hoping the team rediscovers the killer instinct up front with some good chances going begging against Sydney.
Meanwhile, Rogic received a three-game suspension from the FFA for his rash challenge on Rhyan Grant.
The FFA panel reviewed the incident and added an additional two matches to the mandatory one-game ban.
The Mariners have decided they will not appeal the FFA's decision.