Despotovic to get first A-League start
Alessandro Del Piero's hamstring injury has opened the door for Sydney FC's new striker Ranko Despotovic to get his first A-League start as the Sky Blues chase a record fifth straight win when they face the Central Coast on Saturday.
Del Piero was ruled out of the trip to Gosford due to the injury suffered in last week's 2-0 win over Newcastle.
Despotovic came on as a substitute for the veteran Italian to great effect, scoring his second goal in as many games to help Sydney to a club-record fourth win on the trot.
Coach Frank Farina expects Del Piero to be fit when Sydney host Melbourne Heart next week but has confirmed the new 30-year-old Serbian recruit will get his first start this week.
"Ranko will start," Farina said ahead of training on Thursday.
"He's still probably a little bit off in terms of his fitness for a full 90 minutes.
"So hopefully we'll get an hour plus out of him on Saturday."
Farina said Despotovic would play at the point of attack with Richard Garcia filling Del Piero's No.10 spot.
Ali Abbas, who has been playing out of position at left back, will return to his natural left midfield role with Farina saying Sebastian Ryall is the likely replacement at left-back.
Pedj Bojic, who returns from a week's suspension on Saturday, will likely take up his place at right back.
Meanwhile, Farina dismissed any links with former Mariners young gun Bernie Ibini, who is reported to be eyeing a move to Sydney.
Lucas Neill, who could be left club-less after his sudden exit from his Japanese club on Tuesday could also be looking for a move back to the A-League.
But Farina confirmed he had no interest in recruiting new players.
"Unfortunately we've got no spots left so we're not considering anyone at the moment," he said.
"We've got a full roster and that's it, there's no room."