Melbourne City boss Rado Vidosic is increasingly confident that Socceroos midfielder Aiden O’Neill will be cleared to play in their A-League Men semi-final against Sydney FC.
With the scores tied at 1-1 after the first leg, Sydney travel to Melbourne’s AAMI Park on Friday, with a place in the grand final up for grabs.
City lacked polish without O’Neill in last week’s encounter, the influential midfielder unable to fly to Sydney due to back spasms.
But Vidosic was hopeful the 24-year-old would be fit to feature in City’s most important game of the season.
“He trained the whole week, so he is putting his hand up,” Vidosic said.
“We missed him last week, so hopefully there won’t be any problems with his back.
“Then we can consider if he can start, or at least come off the bench in the second half.
“A few years ago he had a stress fracture in his back and he had bad back problems.
“I’m not an expert, but he just could not bend forward the day before we were travelling, and that travel would probably not be good for him.”
O’Neill’s absence from the City side was noticeable, with Vidosic bemoaning his side’s inability to maintain possession.
As a result they struggled to release their potent frontline, which boasts the talents of Marco Tilio, Jamie Maclaren and Mathew Leckie.
“We created some half-chances, but we did not create as good chances as Sydney created,” Vidosic said.
“I think we controlled the game much better in the second half – we had more than 70 per cent of the ball.
“We starved them of the ball, and if we do that then we will definitely create more chances.
“Leckie has now played a full 90 minutes, so he’s better for it, and Jamie’s going to have better service.
“I think we’re going to create more chances, and then it’s just up to us to finish them off and score a goal.”
City are unbeaten at AAMI Park this season, but Sydney fired a warning shot that their run could come to an end when Rhyan Grant got behind their defence and put the ball in the back of the net.
The goal was ruled out for offside and Vidosic has spent the week reminding his team of the need to keep a watchful eye on Sydney’s attacking players.
“Space doesn’t score the goal, the man scores the goal, so we need to be much tighter,” Vidosic said.
“We failed to do that and the players are aware of that.”