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Jan 2, 2008

McMaster given nod as Roar lead ladder

Almost 12 months after being snubbed by Queensland coach Frank Farina, rookie goalkeeper Griffin McMaster has been entrusted with helping an injury-hit Roar to an historic A-League premiership.

Queensland were on Thursday counting the cost of last round's 4-1 win at Perth that gave them the A-League ladder lead for the first time.

No.1 custodian Liam Reddy (broken thumb) has been ruled out for two weeks and skipper Craig Moore's yellow card against Perth ensures he will miss Saturday night's Suncorp Stadium clash with Melbourne.

Midfielder and ex-Socceroo Danny Tiatto will also skip the Victory showdown in order to be fully fit for the January 13 clash with Sydney FC.

But exciting youngster Michael Zullo was on Thursday included in the Roar squad after missing more than a month with a thigh injury.

Reddy's loss has been McMaster's long awaited gain.

The 24-year-old will make his A-League debut after Farina gave him the green light to replace Reddy for the next two, crucial games.

McMaster's debut could not have come at a more important time with Queensland eyeing not only an historic top four finish but a maiden premiership.

It's been a long time coming for the rookie who looked set to debut for the Roar last season - coincidentally in the corresponding match against Melbourne last January.

Instead Farina surprisingly replaced a suspended Reddy with bolter Tando Velaphi.

McMaster looked lost to the Roar entirely when Farina signed Matthew Ham as Reddy's reserve keeper for the 2007-08 season.

However, McMaster received a lifeline when Ham suffered a season-ending shoulder injury.

"We have every confidence in Griffin McMaster and I'm sure he'll come in and do a good job for us," Farina told reporters.

"Griffin will definitely start against Melbourne and it's a good chance for him.

"He's been working hard all year and has been with the club for a couple of years - he deserves his chance."

McMaster, of the Gold Coast, hoped to make up for lost time against Melbourne.

"This is my opportunity to show what I can do and I'm very confident that I can play well at this level of football," he said.

"I'm very excited at the prospect of playing and can't wait for the game."

As extra insurance, Roar flew keeper Marko Sutalo, 25, up from Melbourne and registered him as injury cover.

He will take his place on the bench as reserve goalkeeper on Saturday night.

Reddy suffered the injury early in the Perth match but still played the full match.

However, Farina said Reddy would not be risked.

"If there was no risk of doing further damage I'd be happy to just strap it up and play, but the next two weeks is crucial and if I damaged it more it would be the end of my season," Reddy said.

He hopes to be back for Queensland's final regular season clash against Adelaide.

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