Injury fears for Dragons ahead of vital derby
All White Aaron Clapham returns to the ranks from suspension, but Canterbury United face a mini injury crisis for tomorrow's southern derby in Dunedin.
Dragons captain Dan Terris will miss his third consecutive game with a hamstring problem and coach Keith Braithwaite said several other players were still nursing injuries.
He will not finalise his starting lineup for the ASB premiership visit to Forsyth Barr Stadium to play Otago United until after today's final training session in Christchurch.
Braithwaite said centreback Tom Schwarz is suffering from shin splints, winger Darren White has a back strain and forward Nathan Knox, who has played the last two games off the bench, has been troubled by a hamstring twinge.
Midfielder Josh Smith is also unavailable due to attending a wedding.
Foundation Canterbury United midfielder and erstwhile assistant-coach Andy Pitman, who has not played at national league level for two years, has been brought into the squad.
Pitman has however been playing regular winter league football for Cashmere Technical and his return would add some vital vocal organisation on the pitch, especially in Terris' absence.
The Dragons need to snap a sequence of three successive defeats with their first victory of 2013. But Braithwaite knows from past derby days in Dunedin that "it's never an easy game".
"It's an old football cliche, but every game is a cup final for us now. We were are in a situation where we have to got to go down and get three points."
Canterbury have slipped from second to fourth in the past fortnight and must start winning again to hold off a late top-four challenge from Team Wellington, who won in Christchurch last weekend and should beat bottom club Waikato FC today.
Otago will chalk up their 150th premiership game and coach Richard Murray said concentration "for the whole match is a must defensively". "We will make chances. But we must get shots on target, and with Otago's 12th man roaring us on from the grandstands, I feel we can get a result," Murray told the league's website.
Murray has called back Scottish defender Craig Ferguson, Matt Joy and Tom Connor to his squad, but young winger Joel Stevens, who scored for Otago in their 1-2 loss to Canterbury in Christchurch in the first round, remains out with a dislocated shoulder.
Ex-All White Aaron Burgess will play his 50th game for Otago.
Adam Highfield, Tom Batty (gks), Louie Bush, Julyan Collett, Tom Schwarz, Andy Pitman, Nick Wortelboer, Chris Murphy, Aaron Clapham, Darren White, Andy Barton, Ken Yamamoto, Nathan Knox, Russell Kamo, Ash Wellbourn, Michael Fifii.
Liam Little (gk), Geordie Mansford, Ben Fitzpatrick, Matt Joy, Regan Coldicott, Seamus Ryder, Victor da Costa, Ant Hancock, James Govan, Scott Gannon, Sam Mepham, Tom Connor, Aajay Cunningham, Tim Horner, Andy Ridden, Aaron Burgess, Zane Officer, Morgan Day, Craig Ferguson. Kickoff: 3pm tomorrow.
Other Round 10 matches (home teams first): Today: Team Wellington v Waikato FC, Waitakere United v Youngheart Manawatu. Tomorrow: Hawke's Bay United v Auckland City.