Four games in 11 days encapsulates a hectic schedule for Adelaide United in what could prove decisive as it chases a top-two finish.
The Reds begin by tackling ladder leaders Melbourne City at AAMI Park on Thursday night, knowing the importance of three points.
Collecting three points is something Adelaide has not achieved in four games and following back-to-back goalless draws at home, Carl Veart will be desperate his side can change those fortunes in attack.
After surrendering a two-goal lead, City defeated Brisbane Roar 3-2 and are unbeaten in seven games while sitting nine points clear at the summit.
United – equal second – are one of four teams on 32 points, while five points separates second and ninth spot.
However, the Reds prevailed 2-0 in the pair’s most recent meeting back in January, courtesy of goals from Tomi Juric and Stefan Mauk.
Veart on Josh Cavallo’s new deal…
He’s come in and we didn’t promise him anything to come here and he’s come here and he’s worked extremely hard. He’s put in some tremendous performances and deserves an extension on his contract.
Veart on players returning…
We’re getting close now to having everyone available. Javi (López) will be available for the game on Sunday as well so it’s really good. We’ve got this very congested fixtures coming up so we need everyone available to play and everyone will get game time in these next couple of weeks.
Veart on importance of win…
You can see now the table has got very congested. So you’ve got to start getting points otherwise you might get left behind and then you’re in a fight to get those final spots in the six and we don’t want to be in that and we want to be higher up.
Veart on curtailing Maclaren’s impact…
His record speaks for itself. The amount of goals he’s scored and how he scores goals is tremendous. You can’t give him too many opportunities because he’s deadly in and around the box. Again it’s just about limiting opportunities for City to get into our box and if we can limit them getting in there then Jamie doesn’t get as many opportunities.
James Delianov returns to the squad for the first time since injuring his hamstring in mid-March. Michael Jakobsen has also been named after missing the last six games with a hamstring complaint.
Mohamed Toure returns from suspension, while Pacifique Niyongabire and Yared Abetew have both been promoted. Ryan Strain is out serving a one-game suspension, while Javi López has been reintroduced to full training this week and is edging closer to a return. For the extended squad click here.
Last five meetings
2-0 win (H)
2-2 draw (A)
3-1 win (H)
2-1 loss (A)
1-0 win (H)
Ones to watch
Ben Halloran has been Adelaide’s most influential player of late without necessarily reaping the rewards. He always makes something happen and injects energy from the wing.
Free-scoring Jamie Maclaren is arguably in career-best form having bagged 22 goals in 20 games along with five assists. Keeping the Socceroos striker quiet will be a tall order, so limiting his supply from wide areas is crucial. His movement and runs in behind are another aspect of his game both Reds centre-backs will need to be cognisant of.
Thursday, 13 May vs Melbourne City
A-League 2020/21 – Matchweek 21
Kick-off 6.35pm ACST
Venue: AAMI Park
Broadcast: Fox Sports
Stream: Kayo Sports, MyFootball Live App