Thursday, March 14, 2013
Injured Ono to miss Melbourne Heart clash
By Elise Scott
Western Sydney Wanderers will line-up against Melbourne Heart without midfielder Shinji Ono, after the Japanese import was ruled out because of a niggling hamstring injury.Ono didn't board Friday's flight to Melbourne alongside his teammates who will take on the Heart at AMMI Park on Saturday.The midfielder was replaced at halftime of last week's 2-1 win over Wellington with hamstring tightness.Coach Tony Popovic said he wouldn't risk further injury to the Japanese star leading into the A-league finals."Shinji's not made it for the game," Popovic told AAP at Sydney airport."He's progressing very well from last week but we feel we don't want to risk him at this stage."With just three games to go before the finals, a win for the Wanderers could earn them the minor premiership - depending on results of other matches.It would also secure Western Sydney a 10th consecutive win."We'll focus on our game, and if we keep doing the job week-in-week-out, then we know we can finish top," Popovic said.A ninth-placed Heart will be hoping for a win over the top-placed team on Saturday to keep their finals chances alive.Popovic said the Wanderers would have to match the intensity of the Heart to bring home the three-points."It's a big game for them in terms of staying in the playoff hunt," he said."But it's also a big game for us."We're on a nine-game winning streak, so the players know how to win."Western Sydney captain Michael Beauchamp said the first 30 minutes would be crucial."Initially, they're going to come out firing," he said."If we can hold them back and try to sneak a goal there that will hurt them a bit."I think if we can weather that storm we can start playing our football after that."The Wanderers haven't met the Heart away before, but the location of the stadium doesn't phase Popovic."We've got a very good away record," he said."We know it will be tough but we also go with confidence into this game."In the two clubs' most recent clash, Western Sydney toppled the Heart 1-0 at Parramatta Stadium, despite losing defender Jerome Polenz in the 13th minute to a red card.Despite the convincing win in their last meeting, Beauchamp says the team isn't taking their competition lightly."Where they're sitting on the table isn't really reflective of the quality players they have," he said.