While Frans Thijssen deals with the difficulties facing his back four ahead of Friday’s Hyundai A-League Elimination Final against Adelaide United at the Adelaide Oval, it’s clear that the Brisbane Roar interim Head Coach has plenty of options in the other areas of the park.
Thijssen is without defenders Luke DeVere (quad), Shane Stefanutto (calf) and now Jade North, who had emergency surgery to remove his appendix yesterday morning.
However, after the club’s last two Hyundai A-League fixtures in which young players such as Shannon Brady, Patrick Theodore and Lachlan Jackson all featured, Thijssen now has a decision to make on which 16 players will travel to South Australia on Thursday for the knockout Finals Series match.
In the absence of regular centre-backs DeVere and North, the player most likely to be included in Brisbane’s travelling squad to face the Reds is 20-year-old Jackson.
James Donachie and Daniel Bowles are expected to play in the centre of defence but Jackson, who scored the late winner against Newcastle Jets last Friday, has proved he’s more than capable of stepping up to Hyundai A-League level when required.
“Losing Jade is a big blow for us but LJ has done very well, he’s getting stronger and stronger,” Thijssen said.
“It was great to see him score the winning goal, what a feeling for him and great that the young boys can contribute in that way.”
Fit-again Jerome Polenz and Jack Hingert are vying for the position of right-back for Friday’s match against Josep Gombau’s team while Bowles is also capable of playing in that role.
In the middle of the park, performances in recent weeks show that Thijssen and his coaching staff has variety of options particularly with next Tuesday’s final AFC Champions League group stage match against Urawa Red Diamonds at Gold Coast Stadium (7pm kick-off) also on the horizon.
In the absence of his more experienced teammates, midfielder Steven Lustica commanded the midfield against both the Victory and Newcastle and was named the club’s Man of the Match in Round 27 while Devante Clut has scored three goals in his last four appearances.
Thijssen said he had a big decision to make ahead of the Friday’s Elimination Final.
“In the midfield, we have a lot of good players like Matty McKay, Luke Brattan, Thomas Broich and now Devante (Clut) and Steven (Lustica),” he said.
“The competition is high which is good when we have two big games coming up. “
In the front third, 18-year-old Queenslanders Brady and Theodore have also put their hands up for selection in the Finals Series after their recent performances.
Both provided the attacking spark required either side of Costa Rican striker Jean Carlos Solorzano and were unlucky not to get on the scoresheet against the Jets.
Theodore was denied by a timely block in the first half and it was Brady’s blocked shot in the 86th minute that rebounded for Jackson to net the winner.
Thijssen hinted that one of the two could be included in his travelling squad along with fellow strikers Solorzano, Andrija Kaluderovic and Brandon Borrello.
“I’ll have to take a look at our positions, because we need a player in each position on the bench and it’s important to get the selections right,” he explained.
“But they are two players who fit our system. Speedy on the outside and make the runs behind the defence – they have great service with the midfielders behind them so it’s good they know how to make the run at the right moment.
“They were nervous at the start, like LJ, but showed a lot of quality and helped the balance of the team.”
The squad will depart for Adelaide tomorrow morning and will train at the Adelaide Oval tomorrow afternoon in preparation for Friday night’s Elimination Final.
The Hyundai A-League Elimination Final 1 between Adelaide United and Brisbane Roar at the Adelaide Oval will be shown on Fox Sports 4 (Channel 505) and SBS ONE from 7.30pm AEST on Friday, 1 May. Tickets to the match are available via Ticketek.