Heading into the first round of the A-League season, Melbourne City Head Coach Erick Mombaerts says he is working with a fully healthy squad but, unfortunately for him, they’re not all available.
With the Socceroos set to meet Nepal in Canberra on October 10, Taiwan on October 15 and the A-League not observing international breaks in 2019-20, striker Jamie Maclaren is highly unlikely to be available for selection against in round one against Melbourne Victory.
Maclaren will also miss a chunk of pre-season when the Socceroos travel to Kuwait to open their World Cup qualifying campaign in the early hours of September 11.
Furthermore, with Australia’s U23 side – the Olyroos – also set to meet New Zealand on September 6 and September 9, Mombaerts is set to lose many his most talented young players right in the middle his all-important season preparations – Denis Genreau, Nathaniel Atkinson, Lachlan Wales, Tom Glover and Connor Metcalfe all likely to receive call-ups.
For Mombaerts, it means that he’s going to have to explore down into the crevices of his side’s depth in the lead into the 2019-20 campaign.
“We have a squad and some good young players,” Mombaerts said on Tuesday.
“The most important thing is that every player in our squad knows the game principles.
“We organise the training with some rotations and we also need to be prepared in case Jamie is inured. It’s the same for all the players. We have young players and I hope also that if we give a chance to a young player to play that he is ready to play.
“We have a chance to have a lot of very good young players missing (with the Olyroos). Maybe we can have four or five players missing for us for some days, but we are prepared for this.
“Some of them are not ready to start but they could help the team as a substitute to prepare them for the intensity and tactical requirements.
“For example, Connor Metcalfe is readier to start but for the others, it takes more time.
“Maybe for next game tomorrow another young player will start. It depends on the training. It’s in my mind at the moment.”
Set to lose a number of players, the temptation would be high to look out into the market for potential reinforcement, but Mombaerts insisted that he was happy with the squad assembled in Bundoora.
“Firstly, I want to play well in our City style of play, so we need some specific type of players to do that,” the Frenchman began.
“But we need to do this inside the salary cap and I’m happy with the players we have. We can improve our (existing) players in our style in both a collective and individual way.”
City will today fly up to Sydney ahead of their meeting with former National Soccer League (NSL) Powerhouses and current NPL NSW club Marconi Stallions in the FFA Cup’s Round of 16
The Stallions are Australian footballing royalty, having brought the NSL championship to ‘The Palace’ four times across their glittering history and producing numerous Socceroos.
“We have been reviewing some games,” Mombaerts said when asked about the Stallions.
“We’re not surprised about the style of play of Marconi, it’s a little bit similar to (City’s FFA Cup Round of 32 opponents) Campbelltown City. It’s a similar style and at the same level.
“So, we’re not surprised. We respect all teams. I want my players to be active and to set up our style.
“It’s a competitive game, it’s not a friendly game. We need to have competitive games because in a friendly game it’s different.
“In a competitive game, you see more about the players. I want my players to want to win a trophy because when you are in a competition you expect to win.
“For me, it’s an important competition.”