Stick with the inexperienced youngsters that have performed so well or bring back the tried and trusted established stars? That's the big dilemma facing Sydney FC coach Vitezslav Lavicka.
Stick with the inexperienced youngsters that have performed so well or bring back the tried and trusted established stars?
That's the big dilemma facing Sydney FC coach Vitezslav Lavicka ahead of Saturday night's crucial Hyundai A-League clash with the Wellington Phoenix at the SFS that could have a huge bearing on the club's finals hopes.
The Sky Blues have breathed new life into their season over the last fortnight, jumping back into the top six on the back of consecutive wins.
And their quest to lock in a finals berth over the last five rounds of the season is set to be boosted with young star Terry Antonis (hamstring), experienced midfielder Karol Kisel (calf) and defender Sebastian Ryall (hamstring) all a chance to return to the squad this week, while striker Mark Bridge (ankle) isn't far off.
It means an interesting selection dilemma for the departing Sydney boss who has seen emerging youngsters Joel Chianese and Mitchell Mallia step into the first team over the last few weeks and impress.
The pair have only played six Hyundai A-League games between them but have added a new dimension to the Sky Blues attack and grabbed both goals in the vital 2-1 away win over Adelaide last weekend.
"Joel Chianese and Mitchell Mallia have done quite a good job for us and they scored important goals last week, so there is no reason to make changes," Lavicka said of his possible line-up on Thursday.
"But it's always positive when old players are available."
"Terry (Antonis) trained earlier this week and we'll see because we have a full session today and tomorrow."
"We'll make a final decision after that ... he's more of a realistic chance than Karol."
Antonis hasn't played in over a month and would need to come through the squad's last two training sessions this week to feature against the Phoenix, while Kisel only returned to full training on Thursday and is rated a 50-50 chance of playing.
One player who will definitely be in the starting side against Wellington is goalkeeper Ivan Necevski who has been in brilliant form since winning his way into the team.
Necevski, who turns 32 on Saturday, has spent most of this season on the bench behind Liam Reddy but was given the call-up following the 5-2 loss to Newcastle and it's no coincidence the Sky Blues have won both matches since he's gone between the sticks.
"He was a very important player for us in Adelaide he made a couple of great saves and kept us alive and it's full credit to him," Lavicka said of Necevski.
"Ivan has waited for his chance for a long time and now he took it well."
"It's quite tough for Liam (Reddy) but he's professional as well and he's now supporting Ivan and waiting for his chance too."
Sydney have lost to the Phoenix on both occasions they met this season but both those matches were played in new Zealand and the Sky Blues will draw level on points with Wellington in fourth spot with victory on Saturday night.
"This is a massive game for us and for them as well," Lavicka said.
"We have a strong desire in the team to get another three points and if we do we're a real chance to play in the semi-finals and maybe even at home."
"That's a target for us."
Necevski said it was crucial the Sky Blues shutdown Paul Ifill if they were to end their run of outs against Wellington.
"He's a big threat ... he likes to have a lot of room around him but we're not going to give him any room," the Sydney shot-stopper said of Ifill.
"We want to stop him as much as we can, he's one of their leading goal scorers and he's a big threat to us."
"If we stop him we'll go a long way to getting the three points."
"They'll come out swinging, especially after their loss to the Central Coast last week but I think we're getting them at a good time."
"They'll be on a bit of a downer after their loss last week and hopefully we can use that and take a bit of momentum into Saturday night."