Preview: Brisbane v North Queensland

The first of the midweek Round 19 fixtures, the latest Queensland derby is a curious clash between the Roar and Fury at Suncorp Stadium that really could go either way.

Date: Wednesday December 16 Kick-off: 7.30pm AEST Venue: Suncorp Stadium TV and Radio: Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 2 and Sky Sports 1. To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.com.au

Head-to-head Played 1: Wins: Brisbane Roar 0, North Queensland 0, Draws: 1

Previous meeting North Queensland 1 , Brisbane Roar 1, Dairy Farmers Stadium, Round 5, September 2009

Past five matches:

Brisbane Roar: Round 14: Adelaide United 0, Brisbane Roar 2, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 15: Brisbane Roar 0, Melbourne Victory 1, Suncorp Stadium Round 16: Brisbane Roar 4, Wellington Phoenix 1, Suncorp Stadium Round 17: Perth Glory 1, Brisbane Roar 1, Members Equity Stadium Round 18: Brisbane Roar 0, Adelaide United 1, Suncorp Stadium

North Queensland: Round 14: Newcastle Jets 2, North Queensland 0, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 15: North Queensland 1, Central Coast 5, Dairy Farmers Stadium Round 16: North Queensland 2, Adelaide United 1, Dairy Farmers Stadium Round 17: Sydney FC 4, North Queensland 1, Sydney Football Stadium Round 18: North Queensland 1, Perth Glory 0, Dairy Farmers Stadium

Analysis:

The first of the midweek Round 19 fixtures, the latest Queensland derby is a curious clash between the Roar and Fury at Suncorp Stadium that really could go either way.

Of the coaches, North Queensland boss Ian Ferguson will be happier with the formline heading into this game after his charges produced a dominant performance over Perth last Friday night, while the Roar went down to bottom club Adelaide. However, the fact North Queensland only managed a 1-0 win despite clearly having more possession and creating better chances suggests Ferguson still has plenty of work to do in terms of improving his side's finishing, whether it be shooting for goal or the final ball into the forward third.

It's this lack of killer instinct that seems to be holding the Fury back at present. Indeed, this North Queensland side should possibly be higher on the table than eighth position after dominating an early game against Adelaide, only to lose 2-0. It's also easy to forget that the 5-1 thrashing by the Mariners started off with the Fury controlling the match for the first 20 minutes before Pedj Bojic struck truly and opened the floodgates.

After that defeat, Ferguson made numerous changes as he introduced English products Terry Cooke and Matt Smith into the side for a win over Adelaide the following week, but once again the Fury failed to build on that momentum as it came up against a fired-up Sydney which produced one of the best first halves of football seen this season. If the stop start nature of the Fury's season is anything to go by, then the Roar are shoe-ins to win this game, but this time around, Ferguson will be really impressing on his charges the need to build some momentum heading into the Christmas period, for the tightness of the table means the finals are certainly not beyond them in their inaugural year. Indeed, a win for the Fury in this game will see the club re-enter the top six, dropping Perth to seventh.

While the North Queensland law of averages suggests a Roar win, Brisbane coach Ange Postecoglou certainly won't be taking anything for granted come Wednesday night. While North Queensland's season has been ravaged by injury, Brisbane has copped more than its fair share of internal issues, ones that have seen former coach Frank Farina, playmaker Charlie Miller and now former goalkeeper Liam Reddy leave the club in just a matter of weeks. Postecoglou is the man appointed to clean up the mess, and the former Australian youth coach is realistic enough to know that his side is now in something of a re-building phase as he gives experience to youngsters like Mitch Nichols and new goalkeeper Griffin McMaster. Postecoglou's team has been boosted for this week, however, by the return of experienced midfielder Matt McKay and dangerous young forward Tommy Oar from quadriceps and ankle injuries respectively. Another youngster in Ivan Franjic (hamstring) has also been included but the former two appear more likely to start.

The only omission from the Roar side is experienced campaigner David Dodd on a two-week suspension for accumulating one too many yellow cards in last week's loss to Adelaide, a result that would especially hurt as Brisbane also controlled much of this game, only to be unlocked by a sensational Matthew Leckie cross for Fabian Barbiero to score. One win from the last five then, is hardly winning form as Postecoglou attempts to gel his youngsters together in the ongoing absence of key figures like Danny Tiatto and Reinaldo, but once again the league table suggests there's still plenty for Brisbane to play for and a team coming from ninth to figure in the finals isn't out of the question, particularly if it features the ever-dangerous Sergio van Dijk.

Brisbane Roar squad: Brisbane Roar squad: 1. Liam REDDY (gk), 2. Andrew PACKER, 3. Luke DEVERE, 4. Craig MOORE (c), 5. Josh McCLOUGHAN, 7. Michael ZULLO, 8. Massimo MURDOCCA, 9. Sergio VAN DIJK, 12.Matthew MUNDY, 13. HENRIQUE, 14. Adam SAROTA, 15. Matt McKAY, 17. Mitch NICHOLS, 20. Griffin McMASTER (gk), 21. Tommy OAR, 22. Ivan FRANJIC, 23. Tim SMITS, 25.Luke BRATTAN

*three to be omitted*

In: Matt McKAY (returns from injury), Ivan FRANJIC (returns from injury), Tommy OAR (returns from injury)

Out: David DODD (suspended - two weeks)

Unavailable: Danny TIATTO (hamstring injury - 1 week), REINALDO (hamstring injury - 1 week)

North Queensland Fury squad: 1.Paul HENDERSON (gk), 2.Robbie MIDDLEBY, 3. Chris TADROSSE, 7.Jason SPAGNUOLO, 9.Robbie FOWLER (c), 10.Jeremy BROCKIE, 11.David WILLIAMS, 12.Jack HINGERT,14.Chris GROSSMAN, 16. Paul KOHLER, 19.Daniel MCBREEN, 20. Justin PASFIELD (gk), 23. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 24 Dyron DAAL, 26 Matt SMITH, 27 Terry COOKE

*one to be omitted*

In: Jack HINGERT (promoted)

Out: Jacob TIMPANO (not selected), Beau BUSCH (not selected), Fred AGIUS (not selected), Osama MALIK (not selected), John TAMBOURAS (not selected), Karl DODD (not selected)

Unavailable: Shane STEFANUTTO (knee - indefinite), Scott WILSON (knee - indefinite), James ROBINSON (knee- indefinite), Ufuk TALAY (calf - 4/6 weeks)