Roar ready for Mariners challenge

Brisbane Roar Head Coach Mike Mulvey said his side will not shy away from the challenge of facing Hyundai A-League leaders Central Coast Mariners at Suncorp Stadium tomorrow night.

Brisbane Roar Head Coach Mike Mulvey said his side will not shy away from the challenge of facing Hyundai A-League leaders Central Coast Mariners at Suncorp Stadium tomorrow night.

A fierce rivalry has grown between the two clubs in recent years but this season, the Mariners had the wood over the two-time Champions in their one previous meeting - a 2-1 home win, their first over the Roar in Gosford since the competition began in 2005.

Despite the 18 points that separate the two teams on the Hyundai A-League table, Mulvey was excited at the prospect of pitting his side, who managed a tough 1-0 win over Perth Glory away from home last Saturday, against the competition-s current best.

“Central Coast Mariners are the best team in the league, the table doesn-t lie,” he said.

“They are consistent, they-re ruthless and they-re very methodical.

“We will be paying them the utmost respect but this is our home turf and I expect us to take the game to them and put on a show.

“We want to take three points off them, without a doubt.”

Central defender Jade North, signed by the club three weeks ago, has regained his match fitness and will make his club debut against Central Coast alongside Matt Jurman in the heart of defence, with captain Matt Smith still sidelined with a hip complaint.

Steve Lustica, who made his first appearance for Brisbane over in Perth, is expected to play while a decision on the club-s newest signing Stef Nijland-s involvement will be made closer to kick-off.

“I watched the game [Stef] played on the weekend and there was three feet of snow around the perimeter of the pitch and he-s arrived to this, thankfully it-s a bit overcast today,” Mulvey said.

“He-s just got off a plane so we-ll see how he wakes up tomorrow but one thing I do know is that he wants to play - he-s keen.”

“We are replenishing and hopefully it will soon make a difference to the team.”

Mulvey doesn-t see Nijland-s arrival at the Roar as a threat to top scorer Besart Berisha-s place in the team but as complimentary.

The Albanian striker, as well as vice captain Shane Stefanutto, will return to selection contention after a week out with suspension due to an accumulation of yellow cards.

“What you see around our front third is interchangability, we-ve got players who can play in different positions at any given time in the game,” Mulvey said.

“It-s good to have Bes back this week, he-s refreshed, you saw some hunger out there on the training paddock, he-s excited about getting back into the team and I-m excited about having him back in as well.”

Friday, February 1 Brisbane Roar v Central Coast Mariners Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane Kick off: 7:00pm Local | 8:00pm AEDT Referee: Lucien Laverdure

Brisbane Roar squad: 1. Michael Theo (GK), 3. Shane Stefanutto (capt), 4. Matt Jurman, 5. Ivan Franjic, 7. Besart Berisha, 8. Massimo Murdocca, 9. Stef Nijland, 11. Ben Halloran, 12. Julius Doe, 13. Jade North, 14. Steven Lustica, 17. Mitch Nichols, 18. Luke Brattan, 19. Jack Hingert, 20. Matt Acton (gk), 21. James Meyer, 22. Thomas Broich, 26. Corey Brown. *three to be omitted*

Ins: 3. Shane Stefanutto (returns from suspension), 7. Besart Berisha (returns from suspension), 9. Stef Nijland (loan signing from PSV Eindhoven), 13. Jade North (promoted) Outs: 15. James Donachie (omitted) Unavailable: Matt Smith (hip injury - 2 weeks), Henrique (groin injury - 2-3 weeks)

Central Coast Mariners squad: 1. Mathew Ryan, 2. Daniel McBreen, 3. Joshua Rose, 5. Zachary Anderson, 6. Patrick Zwaanswijk, 7. John Hutchinson, 9. Bernie Ibini, 11. Oliver Bozanic, 13. Brent Griffiths, 14. Michael McGlinchey, 15. Brad McDonald, 16. Trent Sainsbury, 17. Anthony Caceres, 19. Mitchell Duke, 20. Justin Pasfield (Gk), 21. Mile Sterjovski (One to be omitted)

Ins: 15. Brad McDonald (Promoted), 16. Trent Sainsbury (Returns from injury), 17. Anthony Caceres, 21. Mile Sterjovski (Both promoted) Outs: 4. Pedj Bojic (Hip Flexor - 1 week), 18. Nick Montgomery (Suspended - 1 week), 29. Nick Fitzgerald (Gentleman-s Agreement - 1 week) Unavailable: 4. Pedj Bojic (Hip Flexor - 1 week), 18. Nick Montgomery (Suspended - 1 week), 22. James Oates (Ankle - 4 weeks), 23. Adam Kwasnik (Knee - Season), 29. Nick Fitzgerald (Gentleman-s Agreement - 1 week)