Reds duo still in doubt

Adelaide United coach Rini Coolen hopes experienced duo Sergio van Dijk and Evgeniy Levchenko can be fit in time for Friday night's clash with Central Coast Mariners at Hindmarsh Stadium.

Adelaide United coach Rini Coolen hopes experienced duo Sergio van Dijk and Evgeniy Levchenko can be fit in time for Friday night's clash with Central Coast Mariners at Hindmarsh Stadium.

Van Dijk has not played since Adelaide's 2-1 win over Gold Coast United three weeks ago while Levchenko has been missing since the 1-1 draw with Melbourne Heart.

Both are taking longer than expected to overcome calf injuries.

However both have struggled to regain full fitness and now remain in serious doubt for the important fixture against the second-place Mariners.

Coolen said he would prefer to rush the pair into the side for Friday night but admitted he would have to be realistic and not take the risk if neither was 100 per cent fit.

"It's an important training for us all but especially for van Dijk and Levchenko, because we prefer to use them as quick as possible. We need them."

"But you also have to be realistic and we are definitely not going to take a risk because they are both players who have had some issues with muscle problems."

"They train Thursday with the group after having a few individual sessions the last couple of days and the final decision (on their fitness) we can make then or even Friday morning."

The Reds have not been helped by injuries to reigning club champion Cassio and marquee signing Dario Vidosic and suspension to former Mariners defender Nigel Boogaard.

Cassio is set to spend at least two months on the sidelines while Vidosic faces three weeks out with a back fracture and Boogaard one after being sent off against Newcastle last Friday night following his return from a lengthy injury lay-off only two weeks prior.

"It's not easy at the moment because we are losing some players (to injury) but it gives an opportunity to others like (Osama) Malik, (Daniel) Mullen and also Fabian Barbiero," Coolen said.

"It's a possibility Mullen will (play against Central Coast) but maybe not because he just came in a couple of days ago (from national duty with the Olyroos)."

"But then there's an opportunity for Malik, who has done very well in the last couple of weeks when he's come in (from the bench) and it's more than likely we are going to use him in the starting eleven."

"Barbiero was injured for a long period ... he came in (two weeks ago) and was fantastic in both games and he will get the opportunity to be in the starting eleven also."

"If Serge (van Dijk) is not available then it gives an opportunity to Ricky (Da Silva) also who has played recently and is well prepared for games at an A-League level."

Despite being undefeated in four games Adelaide is second bottom with only two wins.

Although a win could see the Reds climb as high as third if other results go their way.