Roar teens causing headaches for Farina
The return of several key youngsters will cause more than a few welcome headaches for Queensland Roar coach Frank Farina as the club prepares for its first A-League finals campaign.
The Roar sit top of the league ladder on goal difference heading into the final round, the most anticipated in the league's three-year history.
The top four teams, all assured of finals berths, sit on 31 points, meaning the finals fixtures will only be known when the final whistle is blown on the regular season.
The Roar face sixth-placed Adelaide at Hindmarsh Stadium in the final match of round 21, and coach Frank Farina believes a win will just about assure his side of the minor premiership given their two goal buffer on goal difference over their finals-bound opponents.
Despite missing a golden opportunity to go clear at the top of the ladder in their 0-0 draw with Sydney in Brisbane on the weekend, the news is good for the Queenslanders.
Winger Robbie Kruse is likely to make his comeback in Adelaide after being ruled out of the Sydney match at the last minute with a hamstring injury.
The 19-year-old has been one of the league's stars this season, alongside fellow teenager Michael Zullo who made a quiet comeback from injury in Sunday's Suncorp Stadium draw.
Farina said Zullo's comeback was a success after six weeks off the pitch.
"He'll be better for (the run), for sure," Farina said following the match.
Not that the replacements had too many problems creating their own buzz.
AIS graduate and 18-year-old Tahj Minniecon was one of the Roar's best against Sydney, while Chris Grossman impressed in his performances this season.
While praising the efforts of his team's teen brigade, Roar skipper Craig Moore warns finals time is a different ball game.
"I think you need to be very careful with the young lads," Moore said.
"They've come in and they've done extremely well and we're all really pleased. But we don't want to put too much pressure on the young lads because its hard for them to maintain that level of consistency."
Farina's finals selections may be made easier by one factor - discipline.
Six players go into Sunday's match against the Reds with three yellow cards for the season, meaning another yellow will rule them out for the first leg of the finals series.
Zullo, defenders Andrew Packer, Stuart McLaren, Ben Griffin and Hyuk-Su Seo, as well as Brazilian substitute Marcinho, will play with suspension in the back of their minds if selected for Sunday's match.