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Jan 16, 2009

Leaky A-League teams to get some relief

The two leakiest defences in the A-League could get some relief on Sunday, as competition stragglers Newcastle and Perth look distinctly short of firepower.

On paper the game between the bottom two teams should deliver a hatful of goals, given they have conceded 72 between them this season.

However, differing circumstances are likely to dictate that Perth coach David Mitchell and his Newcastle counterpart Gary van Egmond improvise by selecting young or makeshift attacks.

Perth will take the field at EnergyAustralia Stadium without the league's most prolific strike pairing, Eugene Dadi and Nikita Rukavytsya.

Ivory Coast international Dadi, who has scored ten times this season, has gone on loan to Swiss club FC Vaduz for five months.

Rukavytsya, who has found the back of the net nine times, will miss the game because he is trialling with Dutch club FC Twente.

Together they have accounted for over two thirds of Perth's 27 goals this season.

Mitchell confirmed he was looking at playing Dutch international midfielder Victor Sikora up front, while the Glory's two-time top scorer Jamie Harnwell could also be pushed up forward.

Perth, whose 38 goals conceded is the worst in the competition, could have one less problem to worry about, due to the likely unavailability of the Jets star striker Joel Griffiths.

Newcastle's leading marksman this season with seven of their 19 goals, Griffiths is in doubt for the game after suffering a hamstring problem at training last Thursday.

He didn't complete training on Saturday and van Egmond isn't prepared to take any risks with Newcastle's Asian Champions League campaign looming.

Newcastle has scored fewer goals this season than any other team and conceded the second-highest total, already has a shortage of experienced strikers due to a series of injuries.

"It's a case of ensuring that he's going to be right for the Asian Champions League and we don't want anything major happening to him," van Egmond said.

The anticipated absence of Perth's Argentinian midfielder Adrian Trinidad's could take a little needle out of the match following the last clash between the two teams back in November.

Van Egmond was found guilty of bringing the game into disrepute and handed a ban after running onto the pitch to confront Trinidad after he won a disputed penalty in the 2-2 draw at Members Equity Stadium on November 8.

Trinidad scored twice for Perth's youth team in their 5-2 win over Newcastle on Saturday in his comeback from an ankle injury, but was considered unlikely to be used on Sunday.

Both van Egmond and Mitchell are expected to give some of their promising youngsters a run in the only game of the round which has no bearing on the scramble for A-League finals positions.

"They (young players) are keen and eager to perform and do well and that adds a bit to the squad," Mitchell said.

He will regain the services of one veteran, with defender David Tarka returning from suspension.

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