Multiple changes help Sydney FC: Thompson
Perched in third spot, Sydney FC feel like genuine A-League title contenders and midfielder Matthew Thompson says the suspensions and injuries plaguing the side can also provide an advantage.
A mere month ago Sky Blues fans were calling for coach Frank Farina's head as the side looked destined for a repeat of last season's disappointment.
But after posting a club-record fourth straight win with an emphatic victory over Newcastle Jets on Saturday, fans and players alike are daring to dream that a third championship could be a realistic ambition.
Just as important for morale, Saturday's win came largely without the help of Alessandro Del Piero, who left the field midway through the 2-0 victory with a hamstring injury.
Joel Chianese and new Serbian striker Ranko Despotovic, who came on as a substitute for Del Piero, ensured the Sky Blues kept their winning streak going.
Del Piero will have scans on Tuesday to assess the extent of his injury but is in doubt for this weekend's trip to Gosford to meet defending champions Central Coast.
Thompson started in place of the injured Brett Emerton (calf) on Saturday, with the veteran midfielder also in doubt for the Mariners clash.
Pedj Bojic will be back from suspension but fellow defender Tiago Calvano is serving his eight-week ban while the likes of Rhyan Grant (knee), Peter Triantis (groin) and Terry Antonis (thigh) are sidelined indefinitely with injury.
Far from threatening to derail the side, Thompson says the frequent changes in the starting 11 can give an advantage to the Sky Blues.
"It's important for us that we have that self belief that no matter who's out there we can do a job," Thompson said after training on Monday.
"The fact that we've used so many players, it would be hard for teams to prepare for how we'll play so that can really be an advantage for us.
"Joel (Chianese) has stepped up this year, Ali (Abbas) is (switched to) playing left back and Mat Jurman came in in defence on the weekend and it's like he's been playing there for 10 weeks.
"I think a few people may have thought with Alessandro coming off it might have been a blessing for them but for us it may have been an advantage."
But all too aware how quickly things can change, Thompson says the side are making sure their confidence doesn't turn into complacency.
"The big word there is consistency and the teams that do that in the A-League find themselves in the top two or three at the end of the season and that's definitely the plan for us," he said.
"It's important that we put ourselves in a position where if there's any slip ups throughout the season you're not dropping back outside the top six."