Heroes are made in the hour of defeat . . . and defenders Jade North and Daniel Bowles have provided courageous inspiration as the embattled Roar prepares to take on Central Coast Mariners at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday night (7pm kick off).
After a month on the sidelines, North with a groin strain and Bowles with an illness, the pair stepped up and put in a gutsy 90-minute shift in the 1-0 Hyundai A-League loss to Melbourne City on Saturday night.
Both had been expecting to be on the bench, or only play a bit part, in the battle to close the gap on City for the remaining place in the Finals top six.
But a quad injury to right back Jerome Polenz in the warm-up forced Roar Head Coach Frans Thijssen into a late reshuffle of his backline.
Polenz will have a scan tomorrow which will provide a clearer picture on how long he will be on the sidelines but early indications are it could be four weeks.
With the Roar facing two games a week for the next three weeks, Thijssen said North and Bowles had typified the diehard spirit the Roar will need to maintain in the closing weeks of the Hyundai A-League season and in the three remaining Group Stage matches of the AFC Champions League.
“Jade and Daniel did a great job for us. They showed real courage,” Thijssen said.
With so many games ahead, Thijssen said it was important to get 90 minutes of match fitness into several players in the squad who had not played a lot of football in recent weeks.
Jean Carlos Solorzano, who had not played a full game since the 2-1 win over Newcastle Jets on February 6, got a full 90 minutes against City as did fellow striker Dimitri Petratos and midfielder Steve Lustica, who have been mostly on the bench or substituted over the last two months.
“It was a disappointing result (against Melbourne City) as we created so many chances, particularly in the second half, but we have to look forward and our focus is on having as many players fit and ready to go for the next game and the one after that,” Thijssen said.
There is good news for the Roar on the possible return of international marquee Thomas Broich and experienced goalkeeper Michael Theo.
Both are scheduled to resume full squad training this week although a decision on their availability for the Mariners game on Thursday night will not be made until later in the week.
Broich has been resting an injured ankle while Theo has overcome a quad tear.
But the news is not so good for Henrique.
The Slippery Fish had an operation on his knee on Thursday with doctors opting to do a full reconstruction. Henrique injured his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the AFC Champions League game against Suwon Samsung FC 10 days ago.
The speedy striker, who is the Roar’s leading scorer this season (eight goals), is not expected to return to full training until later in the year.