Aloisi misses Mariners training again
Central Coast striker John Aloisi was again absent from Mariners training but remains a likely starter for Sunday's first leg of the A-League major semi-final.
The Socceroos World Cup hero is expected to train for the first time this week on Saturday, with the Mariners claiming both Aloisi (knee) and fellow striker Matt Simon (hip) had shrugged off injuries and were set to face Newcastle.
The Jets, though, appear to have failed in their bid to have newly signed Korean hot-shot Song Jin-Hyung available for the opening match, with the 21-year-old's visa clearance not arriving in time.
"We're waiting through for a visa clearance, he's got a bridging visa, but in terms of being ready for this weekend's game, it doesn't look likely," Jets chief executive John Tsatsimas said late on Friday.
"Hopefully we'll get a favourable answer early next week for the second leg (on February 10)."
Both teams will have their final training run at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Saturday with the winner of the two-legged F3 derby advancing straight to the grand final.
Aloisi, who has scored seven goals in 12 games since joining the Mariners, has been troubled by a knee injury for the best part of a month.
But Mariners coach Lawrie McKinna said his star striker was in a better condition leading up to Sunday than he was for the club's final game of the regular season last weekend - in which Aloisi scored a key goal to help seal Central Coast the minor premiership.
"He's in a better position this week than he was last week," McKinna said.
"It's better than it was at the same time heading in to the last game, and it's definitely helped him that we're not playing until Sunday."
Despite plans to undergo scans, Aloisi has instead just nursed his knee through the week, receiving further treatment while the squad trained.
The Mariners will travel up the F3 freeway to Newcastle with an extended 19-man squad with midfielder Greg Owens returning after overcoming a hamstring strain.
Despite having not beaten the Jets since the first leg of the minor semi-final in 2006 - seven derbies ago - McKinna said his side remained confident of ending that streak having claimed the premiers plate and a berth at the 2009 Asian Champions League.
"I think we can go into the finals series full of confidence," McKinna said.
"Qualifying for the AFC Champions League is huge for the club ... now we can just go into the finals and give it our best shot. There is no pressure on us.
"Newcastle have had the wood on us the last few seasons and we need to pick up a wee bit, but we feel as though we can play a lot better than we did against the Jets last time and I definitely think we can go on and win the grand final."