Depleted Central Coast Mariners are backing in their depth to combat the visiting might of Melbourne City on Sunday.
A bruising F3 Derby defeat against Newcastle Jets left the Mariners short of not just points, but personnel.
Connor Pain and Wout Brama went down injured with hamstring complaints to add to their unavailable list, while Josh Rose picked up a ban as a result of his dismissal.
Their absences only compounds Paul Okon’s selection issues with Olyroos Trent Buhagiar, Tom Glover and Danny De Silva all away on national team duty at the AFC Under-23 Championship in China.
Youngsters Adam Berry, Liam Rose, Josh Bingham, Peter Kekeris and Jack Kuipers have all been called up in an extended squad to face City, spearheaded by in-form Ross McCormack.
Okon backed in those players to fill the void and compete with Warren Joyce’s side.
“We always knew that this period was going to be tough because of having so many games in such a short space of time,” he told a media conference.
“Our stocks will be tested, but we’re confident that we’ll still be able to perform and put out a team that will get the job done.”
Okon hinted young gun Lachie Wales could be in line to start against City.
🗣 “Lachie’s been doing very well … Sunday’s a big chance that he will start.”
— Daily Football Show (@DFS_AUS) January 12, 2018
The 20-year-old Central Coast product has featured as an impact substitute in the Yellow and Navy’s last two games against the Jets and Melbourne Victory.
Wales played with freedom and confidence on both occasions and while the young gun was not able to make a key difference against the Jets, he did exactly that against Victory.
The winger burst down the left and played an inch perfect ball across to Blake Powell, splitting Victory’s defence and goalkeeper down the middle.
Speaking on Friday’s Daily Football Show, Powell hailed the level-headed Wales, insisting he, or any other player called upon, would challenge the missing men for their places.
“He (Lachie Wales) has been coming on and making a bit of a difference in the game,” Powell said.
“So if he starts or comes off the bench against Melbourne City on the weekend, it’s going to be an exciting time for him.
“For everyone that will come on or get their chance this week, they’re all going to grab it with both hands, they’re not going to let it slide.
“They’re going to make a statement for those guys that are suspended or injured that they want to keep that spot.”
Central Coast could make significant ground on the top six should they take all three points against City.
Victory would move them up into seventh, one point behind Western Sydney Wanderers, pending their result against Wellington Phoenix.