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Aug 17, 2008

Sydney set for player boost

A week is a long time in football.

For Sydney FC and coach John Kosmina, it could well mean the return of up to five first-team players.

After scratching around for a bare squad of 15 for Saturday night's A-League season opener, Kosmina is set to have an embarrassment of playing riches for round two.

Skipper Tony Popovic (hamstring) and marquee star John Aloisi (knee) could both return from injuries to face the Central Coast in Gosford on Saturday, with Alex Brosque, Dez Giraldi (suspension) and Stuart Musialik (Olympics) all expected to be available.

Kosmina should also have a fully fit Mark Bridge for the Mariners clash after admitting the Olyroos striker - who had only just returned to Sydney the night before after Australia's Olympic exit - was "seeing stars" playing the final 30 minutes of Sydney's admirable 0-0 draw with Melbourne Victory on Saturday.

"Bridgey's blown a gasket now," Kosmina said.

"To be honest, I wouldn't have even put him on the bench if we had another player to fill up the 15th spot.

"He was seeing a few stars when he came off. And it wasn't because he got rattled or anything, he just cramped up in a game the other night (for the Olyroos) and they've had a long flight back and six weeks of hard work in 35 degree heat.

"So to come here when it was freezing cold and come on, it was difficult for him.

"But he made a difference for the first 10-15 minutes he was on, just in terms of experience."

Kosmina will monitor the condition of both Bridge and Musialik closely during the week before deciding whether to include the Olyroos duo on Saturday.

The coach also suggested he would veer on the side of caution when it came to Popovic and Aloisi - particularly with Popovic, who was a late withdrawal on Saturday.

"Tony might be back next week, but I'd like him to have a full week at least, maybe two, of full training," Kosmina said.

Melbourne, meanwhile, were unlikely to have star striker Archie Thompson (ankle) available for Sunday's trip to Wellington, although coach Ernie Merrick was confident both Nick Ward (calf) and Grant Brebner (groin) would be available.

Victory's medical staff were set to exam Thompson's injury in the coming days after he copped a bad knock while training with the Olyroos last week.

"I don't think he'll be right for Wellington, but I think he might be right after that," Merrick said.

"It was one of those 2-4 week (injuries), but he'll be able to have scans and we'll just see how quickly he comes up."

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