Football 2 years ago

Smeltz to lead Sydney FC against hot City

  • Smeltz to lead Sydney FC against hot City

An underdone Shane Smeltz will be rushed to the front and centre of Sydney FC's starting line-up for Saturday's blockbuster A-League clash against Melbourne City.

Captain Alex Brosque's hamstring injury and Matt Simon's one-match suspension have forced coach Graham Arnold to lean on 34-year-old Smeltz, who has only just recovered from a groin problem.

His last appearance in the Sky Blue was against Adelaide on December 11, but Arnold said Kiwi veteran Smeltz's know-how would be vital against City, who are equal third on the ladder with Sydney on 20 points.

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"Maybe the two weeks off will freshen him up and bring him back to life," Arnold said on Thursday.

"He's got a proven record in the A-League of the goals he's scored and how dangerous he can be, so it's good to have the depth that we've got."

Youngster George Blackwood is also likely to get a second straight start after impressing his manager in last week's emphatic 4-1 win over Central Coast.

The lanky 18-year-old attacker has yet to score in nine appearances since making his debut in April, however Arnold predicted an avalanche of goals once the drought ends.

"They'll come in loads," he said.

"If he can take what he does on the training field onto the pitch in games, he's got a hell of a future.

"He out-muscles all the defenders at training. He's quick, and he's got a lot of ability one-on-one.

"I'd say he's got a good chance of starting again."

City were flying high with 16 goals in four straight wins before being brought back to earth 3-1 by Brisbane Roar last week.

But that hasn't stopped Arnold from describing the Manchester City-linked franchise as the "benchmark" club.

"With the training facility they've got, the backing they've got from the Sheikh (owner, Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan), and the help of delivering players to Melbourne City from Manchester City, speaks volumes," he said.

Arnold also pointed to the fact that they had been getting the job done with marquee signing Robert Koren consigned to the bench.

"The most expensive player they've got is watching every week. That shows you how well they're doing," he said.

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