Mariners prepared for tough fortnight

The Central Coast Mariners are ready for a season-defining fortnight beginning with the visit of Adelaide United on Saturday night.

The Central Coast Mariners are ready for a season-defining fortnight beginning with the visit of Adelaide United on Saturday night.

Currently in fifth place, if the Mariners beat the Reds on Saturday night, they will climb up to second place ahead of the crucial Round 12 trip south to face Hyundai A-League leaders Melbourne Victory at Telstra Dome.

The Mariners will have an almost unchanged lineup to the side that drew 3-3 with Sydney in Round 10, with Nigel Boogaard returning in place of the injured Paul O'Grady who strained his groin in the first half against Sydney.

"Although we had a week off last week, we trained reasonably hard, we came into our last game after a break against the Wellington Phoenix underdone and we're making sure that we won't do the same with this game," said coach Lawrie McKinna.

"It's a big game for the club, if we win this one we go second in the Hyundai A-League, we're very happy with where we're at in the season, but we really need to get a few wins together now."

McKinna was quick to pay tribute to Adelaide for their excellent run in the Asian Champions League and dismissed suggestions that they'll be tired come Saturday night.

"It's going to be hard for Adelaide, I don't agree that they'll be tired, I think they've dealt with their workload brilliantly, Viddie has done a good job and credit to them, they've been fantastic for Australian football."

Although The Reds will back up three days after Wednesday's AFC Champions League defeat, coach Aurelio Vidmar has the option of bringing in a number of players who did not play against Gamba.

Fabian Barbiero is ready to return after a calf problem, goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic has had added time to get over his injured groin and defender Angelo Costanzo should also be fresh after missing on Wednesday night due to suspension.

"We just have to assess what our boys are like and we'll have a good look at them before we head off in the afternoon," Vidmar said.

After letting a three-goal lead slip in the last match between the two sides, Vidmar is aware of the tough task confronting his team.

"The Central Coast are always an extremely hard team to play against," Vidmar said.

"We had them in a good position a little while ago and they fought back strongly to draw the game 3-all, and they did it again a fortnight ago so they aren't going to be a pushover, especially over there."

McKinna is aware of the significance the next two weeks hold. Playing the top two sides in successive weeks is no easy task and with the closeness of the competition, the Mariners could find themselves on the bottom if they lose both matches.

"The next two weeks will make or break our season, if we lose the next two games we could be at the bottom of the table, if we win the next two games we could be at the top of the Hyundai A-League," said McKinna.

"It's a huge two games for us and I think our boys will rise to the occasion and hopefully we'll have a big crowd this Saturday coming out to support us and showing their support to Adelaide United for the great run that they've had."