In the mix: City v Western Sydney

A staggered return to training following a COVID outbreak and an 120-minute midweek fixture makes for an unpredictable starting lineup heading into Melbourne City FC’s game against Western Sydney Wanderers this Sunday.

Opportunities are seemingly on the table for a host of players across the squad and fans will be waiting with a keen eye for Patrick Kisnorbo to name his starting XI on Sunday evening.

The big-ticket item heading into the clash is, of course, the return of Jamie Maclaren from suspension after the striker served his one-match ban during City’s midweek Cup loss to Wellington Phoenix.

City’s number nine was sorely missed on Wednesday night and he’ll be eager to make his return against the Wanderers on Sunday, especially given he’s scored more goals against them than any other team he’s faced, including seven goals in five meetings against them in City blue.

The personnel he lines up alongside in the front three would seem predicated on the circumstances of City’s midweek game, in which Marco Tilio played 120 minutes.

Mathew Leckie and Andrew Nabbout, on the other hand, played around half that time each, so these factors may influence Kisnorbo’s selection on the day.

Similar predicaments exist right across the pitch, with Rostyn Griffiths, Nuno Reis, Scott Jamieson and Scott Galloway also playing the full 120 on Wednesday.

Accordingly, a return to the starting lineup would appear likely for Aiden O’Neill and Connor Metcalfe, given the pair only played half of the midweek clash. Youngsters Jordan Bos and Kerrin Stokes may find themselves starting for a second consecutive game to cover for Jamieson, Galloway or Reis, given the former defensive pair played far fewer minutes than their senior counterparts. This dilemma may be solved in part by the potential return of Curtis Good, who was a notable absentee from the squad on Wednesday night. City fans will hope to see him return to the starting lineup, but Kisnorbo will need to see his fitness proven before he names the defender for his 105th Melbourne City appearance.