YoungHeart Manawatu's most experienced player, Adam Cowan, has scotched rumours he is on the verge of giving the game away.
He has heard it all around town that he will be quitting.
"I'm not going anywhere," he said yesterday. "I'll keep going until I can't keep running anymore."
That was a strong signal he would be back with Manawatu next season.
His presence was a factor in YoungHeart's second win of the season last Sunday over Waikato FC at Hamilton.
Cowan is all for promoting Manawatu youth into the team, as long as it is balanced with experience.
"We just need a couple more experienced players who have played at that level."
Sadly on Sunday, Cowan will be missing when Manawatu journey to Christchurch to play Canterbury United.
He is suspended after receiving a fourth yellow card of the season against Waikato, for a tough tackle.
There was a time when Cowan copped six or seven yellows per season, but for the past three years he estimated he had had only about four in total.
It won't help that striker Seule Soromon and Jordan Martens are both unavailable for Sunday's game, Martens for the first time all season and Soromon having scored two of Manawatu's three goals at Hamilton.
Souley Cissoko and Wade Randle come into the squad.
"Last week there was a bit more fight in the team, we took some chances and the defence was good."
Even a draw tomorrow would be enough to lift Manawatu above Waikato on the table. But there is another factor when visiting Christchurch - the artificial pitch.
"It is a bit hard down on the turf. It grips and we're not used to it; they train on it. It is the only one in the league.
"The ball grips, spins and your foot can get stuck in it."
Of their 21 clashes, Manawatu are ahead 10 to eight, with three draws. In the first-round, Canterbury won 2-0.
That day in December, it was 0-all with 17 minutes to go and Canterbury were under the pump, only for YoungHeart to have two lapses of concentration and let Canterbury steal the game.
At Christchurch last year, Manawatu were humiliated 9-1.
All White Aaron Clapham has scored seven goals in 11 games this season for Canterbury United.
Goalkeeper Matt Borren, Kade Schrijvers and Martens are the only YoungHeart players to have appeared in all 12 ASB Premiership matches this season.
Youngheart Manawatu: 1 Matt Borren (Gk), 2 Liam Higgins, 3 Alex Rufer, 4 Kade Schrijvers, 8 Nathan Cooksley, 9 Wade Randle, 10 Souley Cissoko, 11 Tomas Mosquera, 12 Khair Jones, 14 Tyson Brandt, 15 Billy Scott, 18 Dale Higham, 19 Ben Wilkes (Gk), 20 Sam Redwood, 22 Grant Robson.
Canterbury United: 22 Adam Highfield (Gk), 2 Dan Terris, 4 Nick Wortelboer, 5 Tom Schwarz, 6 Chris Murphy, 8 Aaron Clapham, 9 Russell Kamo, 11 Michael Fifii, 12 Andy Barton, 13 Nathan Knox, 14 Josh Smith, 15 Julyan Collett, 16 Ashley Wellbourn, 19 Louie Bush, 20 Ken Yamamoto, 1 Danny Knight (Gk). Coach: Keith Braithwaite
ASB Football Park, Christchurch, Sunday, 2pm.
Referee: Matt Conger
- Manawatu Standard
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