Sydney FC coach Frank Farina says he is hopeful Italian star Alessandro Del Piero will be fit to play in tomorrow's A-League derby with Western Sydney Wanderers.
Del Piero did not train with the bottom-placed Sky Blues yesterday, as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury that sidelined him from last week's 2-1 win away to Wellington.
Farina said he would give Del Piero until just before the match at Allianz Stadium to prove his fitness.
"You'd like to be in a situation where there was no question about him playing, but there is still that little bit of doubt there," Farina said.
"But we've still got 48 hours."
After ending their five-game winless streak last week, the Sky Blues will be boosted by the return of Terry Antonis and Brett Emerton, who missed the last two matches while on national team duty in Hong Kong, where the Socceroos qualified for the East Asian Cup.
Farina indicated it would be tough to drop anyone involved in the win last weekend.
However, he will be without defensive midfielder Terry McFlynn as he serves a one-match ban for being sent off last week, with Emerton, Antonis or Hagi Gligor the likely contenders as the replacement.
"No-one really deserves to miss out from last weekend, but that decision will be made tomorrow after the final session," Farina said.
Sydney midfielder Jason Culina said confidence was high throughout the team.
"We're a good team, we've known that all along," Culina said.
"It's just that we haven't been picking up the results for whatever reason. If we're all working hard and we're all working together - because it is a team sport - then it makes our jobs a lot easier. Alessandro is one of those special players that can do things on his own . . . it would be great to have him on board as soon as possible, but whether we win with or without certain players, I think a win always gives a team confidence. It was a good result, but we've still got a lot to work on."
The win over the Phoenix was Culina's first start since January 2011, as he struggled to overcome knee troubles that at one stage threatened his career.
Not only did he start, but the former Socceroo also came up with a goal-line run and crucial sweet cross for Sydney's first goal during his 60 minutes.
"I'm building," Culina said.
"I've been out for a long time. The first game I played I played 20, then came on for 30 the week after and finished 60 last week. I'm slowly building on it . . . the fitness will eventually come; that's probably what's holding me back at the moment."
Sydney are now just one victory behind the fourth-placed Wanderers. AAP
- The Dominion Post
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