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Mar 29, 2013

Arnie wants Mariners to keep momentum

Central Coast coach Graham Arnold is intent on maintaining momentum heading into the A-League finals and has more players at his disposal than in recent times.

Arnold had no intention of watching Friday's clash between Newcastle and Western Sydney which would determine whether his team still had a chance of winning the Premiers Plate.

With a crucial Asian Champions League game looming in Gosford next Wednesday, Arnold had previously talked about fielding a youth team against Melbourne Heart at Bluetongue Stadium on Saturday, if his side had no chance of finishing first.

The Mariners mentor certainly didn't sound on Friday as if he was willing to concede anything.

"I'm concentrating on Melbourne Heart (on Saturday) and a good finish to the season and keeping the momentum going for finals," Arnold said.

The good news for him is he has more fit players to choose from than for some time.

Among those in line for a recall after injury is Pedj Bojic, who Heart would probably prefer not to play given his influence in the Mariners two wins over them earlier in the season.

"We've scored three goals against Heart this year and Pedj has got all three and two from free kicks," Arnold said.

"Pedj is back fit which is the main thing.

"We've got 20 fit players for the first time in quite a while, which brings us healthily into the busy period that we've got ahead."

The Mariners are in line to record a third consecutive clean sheet for the first time since November 2010 and Arnold revealed he had put more emphasis on defence since they conceded two goals to Sydney.

"We've refocused on getting back to what we do best, the basics of our defensive structure and ever since then we haven't let a goal in," Arnold said.

Heart are battling with Wellington Phoenix to avoid the wooden spoon, but Arnold said their coach John Aloisi still had a strong squad and they were dangerous.

"I think he (Aloisi) has been hurt in the transfer window by losing a couple of players he probably didn't expect to lose when he built the squad," Arnold said.

"It has been disruptive for him, but when you watch their games, they are always in the game."

Heart will be looking for a good result on the road after taking just one point from their 11 previous games outside Melbourne this season.

"We're looking to end on a high; we want to make sure we finish the season off well," Aloisi said.

"I know we can't make the finals, but its still an important game for us."

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