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Culina set for first Sydney FC hitout

Socceroo midfielder Jason Culina will have his first hitout in a Sydney FC shirt on Tuesday as the A-League club looks to returning players to help rebound from their catastrophic 7-2 defeat by Central Coast.

Veteran Culina is among up to five senior players with the chance to push for promotion in a practice match with local rivals Western Sydney Wanderers.

The game was set up to give match time to members from both squads who haven't played a lot recently and Culina definitely fits into that category, having not played since January last year due to a knee injury which threatened to end his career.

Badly-missed defenders Adam Griffiths (hamstring), Fabio (thigh) and Pascal Bosschaart (Achilles) are also set to return from injury.

Marquee man Alessandro Del Piero won't play in the practice match after missing Saturday's debacle at Bluetongue Stadium with hamstring tightness, but is expected to play in Saturday's A-League home clash with Melbourne Victory.

Sydney coach Ian Crook said it would be up to Culina how long he played for against the Wanderers.

"If he feels good after 45 minutes and feels like he can do another 15, great," Crook told reporters on Monday.

"If he feels that's enough then fine. It's a progression as well with the likes of Jason and Pascal and Adam all coming back in."

Crook said he had watched the entire match against the Mariners again twice on video.

And he dismissed suggestion of a lack of heart and desire, pointing out Sydney didn't conceded any goals in the final quarter of the match.

He said the players should use the pain of the heavy loss to motivate themselves for this weekend's match.

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