Defender Ryan Strain says injury-plagued Adelaide United will need to draw on all their mental strength to come through a tricky period in the Hyundai A-League.
Already without the likes of Baba Diawara, Ben Halloran and Nikola Mileusnic, the Reds confirmed this week defender Jordan Elsey will miss at least six weeks with a fractured foot.
It’s left Marco Kurz’s squad stretched pretty thin, especially at the back where Michael Marrone has been forced to deputise in central defence.
It’s far from ideal timing for the Reds, who are hanging onto their spot in the top four by just two points ahead of clashes against high-flying Sydney FC and Perth Glory in their next two games.
But Strain is confident through the adversity, Adelaide have the mentality and desire to still produce their best.
“We always go out and work really hard. That’s one of our strengths as a team,” Strain told reporters.
“Last year when we played Sydney we had a youth team out there and we still got a draw.
“That just shows we all work hard for each other all the way through the squad.”
Strain was born in Coventry in England and spent four years in the youth set-up at Aston Villa before moving to Adelaide in 2015.
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And it’s that experience with the Championship outfit which has helped the 21-year-old became a key member of Kurz’s squad over the last couple of years in the Hyundai A-League.
“They instill a winning mentality into your head at a young age,” Strain said of playing with Villa.
“It was great going up there because they start really young trying to win titles in the young leagues and stuff.
“It really helped my game playing at Villa.”
The Reds head to Sydney unbeaten in their last four away games, although two of those matches have been goalless draws.
That was the scoreline in their most recent outing in Newcastle on Sunday, with Strain admitting his side need to be more ruthless in attack.
“I think our final ball isn’t good enough at the moment and we have to work on our crossing and putting the ball into the back of the net,” he said.
“Our goal at the start of the season was to obviously make finals. But if we can hopefully snatch three points against Sydney, I don’t know why we can’t fight for third spot as well,” Strain added.
“We’re fourth now and we want to come in the top four but why not go for second or third (place).”