Sydney FC coach Vitezslav Lavicka says it's "like a grand final" but the Sky Blues may be without marquee star Brett Emerton for Sunday's A-League clash with Gold Coast.
Emerton was rested from training on Friday after aggravating a lingering ankle problem in Wednesday's 1-1 draw with Perth Glory in Campbelltown.
Lavicka said the Socceroos star would make his own call on whether to play at the Sydney Football Stadium but hinted he could sit out and be saved for Thursday's blockbuster against Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park.
Sydney are searching for their first win in six matches and are on the verge of slipping out of the top six, but Lavicka said the Sky Blues had to be smart with their star midfielder.
"It's a big problem and question mark about Emmo," Lavicka said on Friday.
"But he's experienced and a responsible player, so he must tell us.
"If he is 100 per cent ready, we will put him on the park this weekend, if not we have to be smart and make sure he is ready for Melbourne."
Lavicka said the injury had been causing Emerton some problems for several weeks, with the final call on his availability to be made on Saturday.
After the disappointment of conceding a late equaliser against the Glory, Lavicka said every match was virtually do-or-die for his out-of-form side if they were to rescue their season.
"We all know that every game is like a grand final for us now because we gave up points last game," Lavicka said.
"... I said to the players this week `all we can do now is to stay positive and remain focused and take personal responsibility'.
"Every single man in the club, every single man in the team ... has a commitment to the club and we all know that."
Lavicka said central defender Pascal Bosschaart would return the starting line-up after serving a one-game suspension.