Milos Ninkovic believes Bruno Fornaroli’s long-awaited return from injury is a huge boost for the Hyundai A-League but hopes it's not against his Sydney FC outfit this weekend.
City host the Sky Blues in a blockbuster top four clash at AAMI Park on Saturday night, with Fornaroli a chance to feature after recovering from a serious ankle injury.
The Uruguayan forward has been sidelined for five months after breaking his ankle in a Westfield FFA Cup clash but is now edging closer to full fitness.
Fornaroli played 67-minutes for a select City side in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Chinese Super League outfit Guangzhou, scoring his team's only goal in a 4-1 loss.
And his possible return couldn't come at a better time for City.
Ross McCormack, Fornaroli’s injury replacement, was recalled to Aston Villa after scoring 14 goals for Warren Joyce’s side, who are undefeated in their last six matches and trail second-placed Newcastle Jets by four points.
While the 30-year-old striker won’t be able to catch Sydney’s Bobo (18 goals) in the race for the golden boot, the Sky Blues’ marquee is wary of the impact Fornaroli could have on Saturday night.
“It’s [Fornaroli’s return] great news for everyone because Bruno’s a great player and the A-League needs good players and I’m happy for him,” Ninkovic told A-League.com.au.
He added: “But I hope that he will not play against us.”
Even without Fornaroli and McCormack, City's attack has fired in recent weeks with the likes of Dario Vidosic and Marcin Budzinski in superb goalscoring touch.
But it's the form of exciting youngster Daniel Arzani which has stolen the headlines in recent months, with the 19-year-old producing a series of eye-catching performances.
Ninkovic believes the attacker has the potential to play in Europe but warned against a premature exit from the A-League.
“He’s a huge talent. He just needs to keep going and work hard and then I think he can become a very, very good player,” said Ninkovic.
“But I think for young Australian players, first they need to be here to play in the A-League.
“Maybe when you go to Europe too early it’s not good for your career and for yourself.
“That’s why I think it’s much better for him to stay here to play a couple of years here and after that to go to Europe.”
Melbourne City host Sydney FC at AAMI Park from 7:50pm AEDT on Saturday night. Click here to buy your tickets.