Adelaide United defender Tarek Elrich is hopeful of a recall to the starting XI for Sunday's Hyundai A-League Grand Final against his former club, the Wanderers.
Elrich made his return from a groin injury off the bench in Friday night's Semi Final triumph against Melbourne City as United booked a berth in the decider for the third time in the club's history.
The 29-year-old defender missed the last five rounds of the regular season but manged ten minutes off the bench and is determined to play at Adelaide Oval as the Reds chase their maiden Championship title.
"It's [groin injury] pulled up pretty well, I'll have six months to fix it once the Grand Final is over," Elrich told reporters on Monday.
“We’ll enjoy this week and make the most of it, because we are fully aware that these are the games you play all the matches in the regular season for.
“I think all the teams will be envious this week, but we’ve worked hard to get here and we’re lucky enough to be participating in a Grand Final.”
Western Sydney Wanderers advanced to the grand final after overturning an early 0-3 deficit against Brisbane Roar, running out 5-4 winners after extra time.
Having played for the Wanderers and under coach, Tony Popovic, Elrich assured he knew the mentality and the fighting spirit they will bring on Sunday.
“Even when they were 0-3 down I knew that game wasn’t over. I actually called a 6-4 scoreline when they were three down so I was pretty close,” said Elrich.
“It’s a credit to them and how they play. If we take the lead on Sunday it won’t be an easy one by any means… this game will go right down to the wire and we are prepared.
“Even though they are my old side, all that tension is pushed aside now and I’ll be fully concentrated if I get my chance to play in the game… I will give it my all.”
Elrich is relishing the opportunity to feature in front of what is shaping up to be a massive crowd at Adelaide Oval, and he is adamant that a home ground advantage still exists.
“Adelaide has waited a long time to see a home Grand Final, and this is our opportunity to do something special for this city,” he said.
“We know Adelaide Oval well and we want to break some records and grab some silverware while we’re at it.”
United’s stunning turnaround, which initially saw them rock bottom after eight rounds, did not surprise Elrich when things finally began to click.
“It was difficult for us and difficult for the fans at the start of the season, but we all stuck together and it’s a credit to the boys and the coaches for believing in the game plan… all the support has been amazing,” he said.
“Guillermo has played in Champions League finals and National Cup finals, he assured us that these are the moments that you will always remember as a player and a person.
“He told us that we can’t leave anything in the tank and it’s going to take the whole squad to win this thing.”
Adelaide United will face Western Sydney Wanderers in the 2016 Hyundai A-League Grand Final on Sunday, 1 May at Adelaide Oval. Kick-off is at 3.30pm ACST (4.00pm AEST).