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Jan, 19, 2008

Mariners sweat on Aloisi swollen knee

Central Coast's A-League championship hopes may rest on the result of scans early this week, with star striker John Aloisi battling to be fit for the opening finals game.

Aloisi has struggled with a knee complaint for the past month but defied the team doctor's wishes to stay on the field after halftime against Wellington on Saturday and score the vital first goal with a header in the Mariners' confidence-boosting 2-0 over the Phoenix.

After training just once last week, Aloisi will undergo scans in the next few days and is hopeful of a quick return.

"I don't know how serious it is, but I might have to manage it a little bit and see how it goes week by week, day by day until the end of the season," said Aloisi, who has now scored seven goals in 12 games since joining the Mariners mid-season.

"I'll have to sit down with the club and doctors and see exactly what it is and how serious it is.

"I only trained once this week and it started to get really tight and the swelling started to come back (during the game) and at halftime the doc didn't want me to continue playing because it was swollen.

"But (coach) Lawrie (McKinna) asked me to give another 10 minutes and so I did, and lucky enough I went out there and grabbed a goal.

"I'm hoping that this week with a few days off, with some treatment, I should be right for the next game. That's my aim, to be alright and make sure I'm 100 per cent."

Fellow striker Matt Simon was also forced off the field in the first half after copping two knocks to his hip, but McKinna was confident he too would resume training late in the week.

The victory at a waterlogged Bluetongue Stadium ended a four-game drought for the struggling Mariners, who had started the final round in third place after spending nearly the entire season at the top of the table.

Aloisi said his side relished being "underdogs" again after months of frontrunning, and said the result would give the Mariners confidence for the finals.

"I think the boys were actually quite confident today because there wasn't the pressure on us in other weeks," Aloisi said.

"Now we're the underdogs, everyone has been writing us off for the past two weeks because of our results, in one of the papers today they said we were heroic failures, and so the boys were pumped up for that.

"This is a situation we like to be in, everyone's writing us off, we wanted to get the confidence back for the finals, and I think that result will give us confidence leading up to the finals."

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