Coolen’s welcome problems

Mention the word ‘problems’ and automatically one thinks of unwanted troubles, but for Reds boss Rini Coolen, the kind of problems he is faced with are ones he is more than happy to have.

Mention the word ‘problems- and automatically one thinks of unwanted troubles, but for Reds boss Rini Coolen, the kind of problems he is faced with are ones he is more than happy to have.

As the Reds lead up to their knockout final against the Wellington Phoenix at Hindmarsh Stadium on Friday night, Coolen has some tough decisions to make.

All season long Coolen has spoken about his desire to have players competing for positions in the starting eleven, and this is exactly what he has got ahead of the club-s biggest game in this campaign.

When a team is coming off an impressive 2-1 win, it would generally suggest that the starting eleven would pick itself the following week. However, for this Friday night-s do-or-die encounter with the Phoenix, Coolen has a number of welcome selection headaches.

Hyundai A-League Golden Boot winner Sergio van Dijk missed the win over Melbourne Victory with a corked thigh and is ready to slide straight back in, while left back Cassio is making quicker than expected progress from a quad strain.

“Cassio is doing well in his individual sessions. We-re preparing him for the next game and he-s pulled up well which is really positive,” Coolen said of the Brazilian pocket rocket.

“Of course at the end of the week you never know what happens, but we feel positive that he will be ready for that game and even maybe a couple of training sessions, so he will be fine.”

“He (van Dijk) should be fit as well. If he got one knock in that game (against Melbourne) more than likely you have to pull him out of that game directly and you take a risk of losing him for one and maybe two weeks, so that-s why we didn-t do it, but that says he is ready to train in a couple of days.”

Also throw into the mix Dutch winger Andy Slory, whose calf problem he suffered in the first half against the Victory is not as serious as first thought, and young utility Osama Malik, who is recovering well from a mild hamstring strain, and Coolen is confronted with a plethora of options against Wellington.

“He (Slory) felt some pain in his calf, and he couldn-t sprint 100 per cent so we couldn-t take a risk for that as well so we changed him, but this morning it is pretty positive,” Coolen said after hearing Slory-s prognosis at the team-s recovery session.

Travis Dodd slotted into the centre forward position in van Dijk-s absence last Friday night, which means Coolen will now need to work out where he plays the skipper this Friday. The midfield is arguably where Coolen-s greatest depth, and dilemma lies. If Cassio does come up from his quad strain, Coolen will need to decide on how he uses talented trio Paul Reid, who scored against the Victory, Adam Hughes, and Francisco Ususcar.

The Uruguayan midfielder took up Cassio-s spot at left back against the Victory, and with the Reds now having a number of options across the back as well, Coolen has the task of finding the mix that he and United-s coaching staff believe will have the best chance of derailing Wellington-s season.

“He (Usucar) did well again but also the other midfielders did a fantastic job as well,” Coolen said.

“But that-s what we need, more players in several positions and they have to challenge each other. Anything can happen during the game, you can-t play only with 11 players, you need the full squad.”

“There are a couple of choices to make but they are positive. I like to have problems, if you want to call them that, because that is what you need as a coach, players have to challenge each other and the best team will be playing and that can change in every game.”

“So I-m really happy to have that problem, if it is a problem, because that means you have a lot of good problems available.”

Tickets for Friday night-s elimination final go on sale to Adelaide United members on Monday 14 February before the general public can purchase tickets from 9am, Wednesday 16 February. Tickets are available through Ticketek.