Sydney struggling ahead of battle with Mooy’s Shanghai

Sydney FC’s woes continue ahead of their AFC Champions League date in Qatar against Aaron Mooy’s Shanghai SIPG, with a hamstring problem having star midfielder Luke Brattan in doubt for Thursday night’s clash.

Brattan’s injury is the last thing the Sky Blues need as they are already without Socceroos defender Ryan McGowan, who has COVID-19, first-choice goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne, who stayed in Australia for the birth of his child, midfielder Anthony Caceres, who won’t arrive until match day after delaying his flight to be at home with his new-born daughter, and suspended defender Joel King.

“We have a few problems here,” Sydney coach Steve Corica said.

“`Brattsy’s’ struggling a little bit as well. He’s got a tight hamstring and he hasn’t really trained at the moment so we’ll have to make a decision on him.

“We’ve got a few decisions to make, but we’ll see how training goes and we’ll make them after that.”

Michael Zullo is a certainty to replace King, while inexperienced keeper Tom Heward-Belle will deputise for Redmayne.

Our most recent strike against Shanghai SIPG, scored by none other than the 🐐

Who'll be on the scoresheet tomorrow night?

Enjoy today's Fujitsu Classic Goal from Alex Brosque in 2019…#SydneyIsSkyBlue #Premi4rs #Champion5 #ACL2020 pic.twitter.com/YFUHTAwLlN

“Tommy’s next in line and this is another opportunity for him. He played in the Champions League last year, he’s played most of our warm-up games and pre-season games to get him ready for this, and he’s been doing well and looking forward to seeing forward to seeing how he goes,” Corica said.

Corica was less enthusiastic about McGowan’s plight.

Sydney had hoped the 31-year-old centre-back, currently in Scotland with his family, would be a late arrival in Qatar.

But having being diagnosed with COVID-19 last week, McGowan continues to test positive to the illness, with his wife now having coronavirus as well.

“He looks like he’s struggling. We’re going to have to make a decision in the next couple of days,” Corica said.

“Obviously if he comes back with a positive test he can’t come (to Qatar). Then we’d probably be looking at sending him back to Australia as soon as possible after he gets a negative test and get him ready for the A-League season.

“It hasn’t been good preparation for him. We’ve allowed him to stay in Scotland to train and then obviously this has happened, so I’m a little bit disappointed to be honest because we wanted to get him over here as soon as possible to join up with the boys because he’s been away for a while, and that hasn’t happened.”

Aaron Mooy (centre) is part of the Shanghai SIPG team taking on Sydney FC. Picture: STR / AFP / China OUTSource:AFP

Despite Sydney’s problems, Corica said his side was desperate to make up for disappointing Champions League form in past years.

And that starts on Thursday night against a Shanghai team that not only includes Socceroos midfielder Mooy, but also star Brazilian striker Hulk.

“We know Aaron Mooy well … we know the quality they have with their foreigners,” Corica said.

“I think it’s the other players, the unknown ones … if we want to go through to the next round we need to beat them.

“We really need to start with a good performance and the three points will come in handy as well.”

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