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Oct 27, 2013

Popovic in no rush to secure Hersi, Ono

They're two of the club's most important players but Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic isn't in any rush to secure the services of marquee man Shinji Ono and midfielder Youssouf Hersi beyond this season.

Former Japanese international Ono showed just why he's so key to the club's success in the Wanderers' 2-0 derby win over Sydney on Saturday, setting up the first goal and scoring the second.

"He probably doesn't take enough credit himself for what he's done here with our club," Popovic said of the 34-year-old on Monday.

"It's not just on the field I think he's brought a real level of professionalism to the playing group.

"He's been to three World Cups, he's done everything in the game and he still wants to get better every day."

Hersi's importance became undeniable from round seven onwards last season with the Wanderers undefeated in all 20 games the Ethiopian-born Dutchman has played in since.

The 31-year-old livewire is a constant menace for opposition sides on the right wing, but is in doubt for Friday's clash against Adelaide with a foot injury.

Popovic is awaiting scan results but is hopeful it is just bruising and not a fracture that could sideline him for several weeks.

"We'd love to have him there on Friday regardless of that stat," Popovic said of the team's success with Hersi in the line-up.

"But I'm sure that stat will have to be broken one day, whether that's Friday night, we'll wait and see."

Both Ono and Hersi's contracts expire at the end of the season and both have expressed a desire to stay on.

But Popovic says he's doesn't feel the need to secure their futures anytime soon.

"I don't feel any pressure at all to have to start talks now," he said.

"All that will come in due time. When it's right for the club and right for the players.

"It's great to hear that they're really enjoying their time here at the club and I think Saturday night, that helps when they see that kind of fan support.

"They're enjoying their football, they're fit, they're healthy and it's just positive for the league that two quality players want to stay here."

One player who does have a long-term deal until the end of the 2014/15 season is journeyman Iacopo La Rocca, who scored the first goal off Ono's corner on Saturday..

The 29-year-old Italian, who has played in several teams in Italy and Switzerland, says friends back in Europe have expressed an interest in playing in the A-League.

He praised teammate Ono and said quality players like him lift the team's performance.

"When you play with players that have good technique and who are key players, everything is more easy and you can play better," he said.

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