Arnold toying with surprise selection for Glory match

Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold is weighing up making a surprise selection for the club’s trip to Perth Glory with midfielder Josh Brillante a chance to be dropped into the backline on Sunday.


The Sky Blues are forced to make at least two changes to their starting line-up with defender Rhyan Grant and goalkeeper Danny Vukovic away with the Australian national team and Arnold eyeing a potential reshuffle of his starting line-up instead of promoting youngsters.

With Seb Ryall on the comeback from a hamstring injury, there is no obvious replacement for Grant in the right full-back spot. Arnold is yet to decide whether to start young centre-back Aaron Calver in his less familiar role out wide or drop Brillante from his regular position as defensive midfielder.

“Seb is still probably another 10 days to two weeks away. We need to be careful with it because it’s a hamstring [injury]. Probably today, he could play, but you always hold hamstrings back a couple of weeks,” Arnold said. “Aaron Calver is 100 per cent fit. He’s trained enormously the last two weeks and more. He hasn’t been injured, he’s just been on the bench or left out. He comes back into calculations. He’s played right-back for us before and he’s done a good job so he’s a potential to play.”

However, Fairfax Media understands Brillante is looming as a late option to start in defence, allowing Serbian midfielder Milos Dimitrijevic to make his return to the starting line-up in the centre of midfield to partner Brandon O’Neill.

While Calver is the more hard-nosed and defensively astute of the two, the mobility of Perth Glory’s Spanish winger Diego Castro has strengthened the calls for the more experienced Brillante to start in defence in order to nullify the threat of last year’s A-League player of the year. Should Brillante be deployed at right-back, it would be the first time he has played in defence for Sydney FC this season though he started four games as a fullback for Como in the Italian Serie B last year.

Sydney FC will be crowned A-League premiers on Sunday night if they can equal or better Melbourne Victory’s result against Brisbane Roar this weekend. Their quest to win their first trophy since 2010 hasn’t been dented by a lengthy 16-day break between games, according to Arnold, who says the rest last weekend was a welcomed chance to work on their finishing in front of goal.

“It was a great period to have off and it’s given us a great opportunity to tidy up a few things we weren’t happy with,” Arnold said. “Look back against the Mariners, it was a 1-0 result that should have been five. It’s about the gut feeling in front of the goal, when you feel the strikers have that feeling about executing. when they get the execution right and get the combinations right, then we’re a very good side.”