They might have put their hand up for Brisbane but the Roar’s young brigade must be prepared to get them dirty against Central Coast on Sunday and “whack them back” if it gets physical, captain Matt Smith says.
Impressed by the way the likes of youngsters Kwame Yeboah, Brandon Borrello and Corey Brown have slotted in for a depleted Brisbane, Smith has encouraged stars Besart Berisha, Shane Stefanutto and Liam Miller not to rush back from injury.
The young trio chimed into Brisbane’s 3-0 win over lowly Melbourne Heart on Sunday that moved the Roar back to the top of the A-League ladder.
However, Smith warned a stern test loomed for his Roar cubs on Sunday against defending champions Central Coast at Gosford.
But he backed his youngsters to rise to the daunting challenge even if their arch rivals tried to intimidate them with a more physical approach.
“I hope our young kids whack them back, to be completely honest,” he said.
“I don’t think we are a nasty team. We don’t look to play that way.
“But sometimes you do need to mix it up.
“These (young) guys have been impressing at training and rightly deserve their shot and will only get better for it.
“I expect them to play a key role this season.”
Socceroos defender Jade North (groin) looks set to return against the Mariners but Berisha (hamstring), Miller (calf) and Stefanutto (hamstring) are expected to miss at least another week.
Not that Smith was complaining.
“I have told them not to rush,” he said. “You can’t push them.
“I would rather they miss a couple more weeks then for them to come back early and be out for another month.
“At the moment, I am not expecting them to be involved (on Sunday).”
Smith said the onus was on the entire team – not just his young brigade – to lift against Central Coast after another unsatisfactory effort on Sunday.
Brisbane again suffered a slow start against the winless Heart but pulled out a third win in four games thanks to an Henrique brace.
“Yesterday wasn’t up to scratch,” Smith said.
“You will take a win any day of the week but there is a lot for us to work on.
“We can’t take half an hour to get into games.
“That’s something we are very conscious of going into this week.”