Adelaide United coach Josep Gombau says key Red Isaias Sanchez is fit to face Brisbane Roar for Friday night’s Elimination Final, and he’s given the Adelaide Oval surface a thumbs up.
Spanish holding midfielder Isaias is a key figure for the Westfield FFA Cup holders and had been in doubt due to an ankle problem.
But after training at Adelaide Oval on Thursday ahead of the eagerly anticipated Elimination Final, Gombau declared the former Espanyol man ready to go.
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“Isaias is ok, he will play. He trained today and he’s in a good condition,” he told reporters on Thursday.
The same can’t be said for Bruce Djite, who suffered a groin injury and was forced off in the 4-1 win at home to Melbourne City in the final round of the regular season.
“We hope that if we win, next week he can be available,” Gombau said of the powerful striker.
As for the task of replacing the central figure in the Reds’ potent, mobile attack, the boss backed one of his trio of Spanish forwards to fill the void.
“We have players that can play there, we have [Sergio] Cirio, we have Pablo [Sanchez] and we have [Miguel] Palanca … that can play as a [number] nine,” he said.
“All of these players can do a good job there. I can confident whoever plays in this role, in this position, will do a good job.”
Gombau also confirmed centre-back Nigel Boogaard and energetic midfielder Jimmy Jeggo are likely to return to the starting XI after being rested to avoid the possibility of picking up a suspension through an accumulation of yellow cards.
Much has been made meanwhile of the decision to switch the match from Adelaide’s regular home at Coopers Stadium to the larger Adelaide Oval, where the quality of the pitch earlier this season, at a time when it was shared with cricket, was deemed unsuitable.
Gombau gave the surface his endorsement and issued a plea for Adelaide fans to forget the disappointment of Hindmarsh being overlooked and come out in force regardless on Friday.
“The grass is ok, we are satisfied. We spoke a lot about this during the week and now is the moment to prepare for the game and concentrate on … trying to win tomorrow.
“I know some fans are upset because we are not playing at Coopers (Stadium) and I can understand why they are upset. But now I want to say to our fans, they need to be good fans, real fans and come and support the boys.”
Having trained on the pitch twice this week, captain and goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic insisted the Reds are now far more comfortable at the venue.
“I think it’s a lot better,” he said.
“The boys have got familiar with it and the boys are ready. There’s no excuse come tomorrow.”