The injury crisis that threatens to derail Sydney FC's start to the season can't be used an excuse if the team doesn't begin well, says new signing Richard Garcia.
The Sky Blues were already somewhat compromised because of players being unavailable for various reasons but a string of further injuries in the past two weeks has left Frank Farina digging deep into his squad to field a competitive team.
However, Garcia believes that Sydney still have the depth to give them a huge chance of claiming all three points against Newcastle at Allianz Stadium on Friday night.
“It's been a bit tough but that's why we've got a good squad depth and everyone who comes in is more than capable,” he said at training on Thursday. “That's a problem for the management staff, that there's a lot of competition for places, and some guys are getting chances now. It's a fantastic thing to have at a club, especially when you do get a few injuries.”
Garcia said the squad had already discussed the need to not only make a strong start but to improve their record at home.
“You want to start the season off with a bang and I don't think anyone goes out in round one looking to lose,” he said. “We want to win every game, especially at home; we want to be more consistent and that's something we lacked last season. This season has been a big thing in our minds to make sure our home form is very good.”
The fringe Socceroos forward said he had quickly settled into life in Sydney after a brilliant personal year with Melbourne Heart.
“They're a good bunch of guys and they've all taken me in, so it's been good,” he said. “We're still gelling as a team, still figuring out how each other plays. It might take some time, but we're quite headstrong and we've got a good group here. We're fired up for round one.”
Garcia arrives at Moore Park not knowing where his final position will be. He's capable of playing in a number of different attacking roles and could be anything from Alessandro del Piero's new strike partner to a rampant right-winger or Sydney FC's new No.10.
It appears the 32-year old is most likely to play as an attacking right-sided midfielder, though he doesn't mind where Farina starts him.
“Anywhere is good for me and I'm happy to play wherever I'm needed," he said. "Some people see me better as a striker, some people see me better as out wide or in the midfield. But if the coach is happy for me to do a job in a certain position, I'm happy to do it. I've done it throughout my career, so it's not a problem.”
When quizzed on how many goals he'd like to score, he guardedly replied: “I've got one in my mind but I won't let that one out of my hat.”
Farina confirmed that Brett Emerton was all but certain to miss the match, as revealed by the Herald on Wednesday.
“He's pulled up pretty much the same as yesterday – tight,” Farina said. “We'll see tomorrow but I'm not expecting him to be quite ready. He'll be right for next week.”
Matt Thompson – who still hasn't officially signed – trained alongside Nicky Carle as one of the two defensive midfielders but Farina was reserved on whether he would start, adding he “might not even be in the bench if the paperwork doesn't come through”.
One player who has been confirmed as a starter is Nikola Petkovic, the coach giving the Serbian defender the nod over Matt Jurman to partner Sebastian Ryall in defence.
“Nikola will start tomorrow. Matty has done well in pre-season, but it's about having depth in the squad, and I've always been a believer in two men for every position,” he said. “We've got that and Matt will get game time this season, no doubt about it.”