Young set for Roar return in Champions League


Jamie Young is set to return to the Roar goals for tonight’s AFC Champions League clash with Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds at Saitama Stadium.

Young played every Hyundai A-League game leading up to the AFC Asian Cup break in January after Michael Theo broke his wrist in the pre-season.

Theo, a five-time Championship winner, has been preferred since the competition resumed and played in the Roar’s 2-2 draw with Perth on Saturday and last week’s AFC Champions League Match Day One 0-1 loss to Beijing Guoan.

But a slight groin strain picked up in the Glory game did not improve during the travelling to Japan and Theo has not trained since the Roar arrived in Saitama on Monday.

Young said the lack of game time in the past month would not affect him if he gets the nod, as is expected, for tonight’s match.

“Football is all about opportunities and making the most of them,” Young said. “If I get the chance I’ll be giving everything I’ve got.”

Striker Henrique is also battling a knee injury –  he hyper-extended the joint in a fall during the Perth game – but is likely to be given until later today to prove his fitness.

The remainder of the Roar starting XI is expected to be similar to the side that took the park against the Chinese last week.

Roar interim Head Coach Frans Thijssen is expected to again opt for experience in his backline with Shane Stefanutto and Luke DeVere pushing for selection ahead of Olyroo squad members James Donachie and Corey Brown.

“(Urawa) are a strong team, we expect a difficult game. But we are confident we can get a result as we are a good team too,” Thijssen said.

“They play a system a bit different to what we are used to so we have to be very organised and keep our concentration through to the last minute.”

Even though the J-League season doesn’t kick off until this weekend, the fervently supported Urawa are already under intense pressure to post a win after two disappointing losses in the last week.

The Red Diamonds lost their AFC Champions League opener 2-1 to Suwon last Wednesday and were beaten 2-0 by J1 rivals and Emperor’s Cup winners Gamba in the pre-season Super Cup on Saturday.

Urawa were runners-up in last season’s J1 but have strengthened their squad by signing Slovenian striker Zlatan Ljubijankic and Japanese forward Naoki Ishihara who has scored 90 goals across all competition over the past decade. Both are expected to be included in the Urawa Starting XI.

The match will be telecast live on FOX Sports 4 (Channel 505) from 8.30pm AEST.