Brisbane Roar Head Coach John Aloisi has called Matt McKay "the best professional I have worked with" and confirmed his Captain will start against Central Coast Mariners in their Hyundai A-League Round 2 clash at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday (4pm kick off).
The midfielder missed the opening round 3-1 win against Western Sydney Wanderers as he was on Socceroos duty in Jordan but has trained all week with the Roar – including today's 60-minute hit out on the lush Suncorp Stadium surface.
As always, Aloisi was a straight shooter when asked about his midfield line-up at a media conference held in conjunction with the training run.
"I will be open . . . Matty will start," Aloisi said, perhaps surprising a few members of the media who are more used to some coaches ducking and weaving on team selections two days out from kick off.
"He's a great leader, someone who has led this club for a lot of years . . . the best professional I have worked with.
"It is exciting to have Matty back in because the players do look up to him and he does lead on the pitch as well."
Getting an early selection nod sets up the tantalising prospect of McKay playing off Spanish ace Corona (below) for the first time.
McKay, with 57 international caps and 173 Hyundai A-League appearances, seems as excited as a debutant ahead of Sunday's big game.
"I had a week (in training) with (Corona) before Socceroos, he's a class act," McKay said.
"He's very calm on the ball, it's like he's got an eternity to make his decisions and he generally picks the right one.
"I'm glad he's here and I'm really looking forward to playing with him."
Aloisi and his squad were thrilled to get a workout on the Suncorp Stadium today (below) which is lush and back to its best after criticism of the surface during the AFC Asian Cup and final rounds of the last Hyundai A-League season.
"On Sunday we start again to make sure this is the place everyone fears," Aloisi said.
Although the Mariners were one of the weaker sides last season and the Roar spanked them 6-1 on their last visit here in April, Aloisi rejected suggestions the visitors were coming to Brisbane as underdogs.
"They're not underdogs any more. They think they've got a team that can win things," he said.
"We respect our opponents because in this league everyone is at a good level. But we also don't fear anyone. We know their strengths and we know their weaknesses.
"It was good to get off to a winning start but we know we've got a difficult game on Sunday and we are fully focused on that.
"We will try and make sure we can dominate the game.
"They counter very well, they've got quick players up front but we've got quick players at the back, so we think that we can put in a good performance for the supporters and hopefully get the three points."
Sunday's match is a double header with the Hyundai A-League game (4pm kick off) preceded by the Westfield W-League clash between Brisbane Roar and Canberrqa United (1pm kick off).
Tickets, which include both matches, are available now by clicking here.
At the conclusion of the two matches, patrons at the ground will be invited onto the pitch for the first time for a full club photograph with all the Roar men's women's and youth players taken from high in the stands.