Star Adelaide United striker Tomi Juric is finally ready to make his A-League return for the in-form Reds.
Returning Socceroos striker Tomi Juric will have to be content with a spot on the bench for Adelaide United in their A-League summit clash against the Central Coast Mariners in Gosford on Thursday night.
Juric has not played since scoring a hat-trick of penalties in the Reds’ 3-2 win over the Mariners at Coopers Stadium on February 19.
The 29-year-old marksman injured his groin in the victory, and missed the Reds’ following five matches.
But after a few false starts, Juric is finally ready to make his return.
However, such is the form of Adelaide, who are chasing a seventh successive win on Thursday night, Reds coach Carl Veart doesn’t feel the need to rush Juric into the starting team.
“Tomi is fully fit now,” Veart said.
“We gave him time. We maybe pushed him a little bit too hard at the beginning and asked too much of him and we’ve now allowed him the time to get up and fully fit.
“He will travel to Central Coast and will play in the game … from the bench.
“We’re on a very good roll and we’re expecting to take three points.”
Not that Veart is expecting a cakewalk against a first-placed Mariners side that have turned their fortunes around after three successive wooden spoons.
“Their team spirit and their work rate is second to none so that’s going to be important for us that we match their effort on the pitch and then hopefully our quality will come out on top and allow us to get the victory,” Veart said.
Adelaide will overtake the Mariners at the top of the table with a win in Gosford.
Mariners attacker Dan Bouman said his side were keen to make up for their 1-1 weekend draw against cellar dwellers Melbourne Victory in Gosford.
“I feel like we controlled most of the game, especially the second half, we had a lot of the ball, created chances, but couldn’t put that finishing touch on,” Bouman said.
“We were a bit disappointed we couldn’t take the three points away, but there were a number of good things, and a couple of things we needed to work on so we’ll take that into the next game.”
Should the battle finish in a draw, in-form Melbourne City will finish Thursday night in top spot if they beat Western United in the early game at AAMI Park.