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May 13, 2023   |  11:23AM AET

Corica faces fine balancing act

Corica faces fine balancing act

Sydney FC coach Steve Corica provided an update on the fitness of both Robert Mak and Joe Lolley after the attacking duo had their minutes managed in their 1-1 draw with Melbourne City in the first leg of their Semi Final tie.

Sydney FC gun Robert Mak should be fit to play in next week’s crucial second leg Semi Final clash with Melbourne City, after coming from the field with a hamstring “issue” in the second-half of their 1-1 draw in the first leg on Friday night.

After starting the game strongly, Mak was substituted in the 54th minute and replaced by Joe Lolley, who is dealing with a similar injury.

Mak and Lolley have had impressive debut seasons in Australia

The Slovakian international has been battling through a hamstring injury over the last few weeks, after hurting it in their 2-0 win over Brisbane Roar on April 24.

Mak was rested the following weekend against Newcastle Jets, but returned and starred in the 2-1 Elimination Final win against Western Sydney Wanderers last Saturday.

Sydney coach Steve Corica played down any concerns of a serious injury, saying it was a precaution to take him out of the game and that he should be good to go for the clash at AAMI Park on Friday night.

“Yeah, more precautionary,” Corica told reporters post-game.

“He’s got a little issue with his hamstring, it just tightens up a little bit.

“He felt it at half time leading into the half and just precautionary, just making sure that we continue with him and he normally recovers pretty well after the game and he should be alright next week.”

Meanwhile, Mak’s replacement Lolley managed to get through over 40 minutes as he builds his way back up to full fitness.

The English attacker hurt his hamstring in their 2-0 win over the Jets in Round 26 and was fit enough to make the bench last weekend against the Wanderers, coming on in the 78th minute before being taken from the field in the 89th after Adam Le Fondre scored the go-ahead goal.

When asked if he would be ready to start next week, Corica remained noncommittal, saying they need to monitor how he recovers ahead of the clash with City.

Le Fondre slotting the penalty against City

“We’ll see how he goes during the week, he was a lot better this week. He looked better on the pitch as well,” he said.

“Another week is a lot when you’ve got tight, little niggles with hamstrings, so I’m not sure, we’ll see.”

Post-game, Lolley described his hamstring “as not perfect” and said he will do all he can to contribute again next week.

“We will see how it pulls up,” Lolley told Network 10.

“It’s not the ideal situation to be honest, but I’m just trying to do it as much as I can and look after myself and hopefully play a part next week.”

When speaking to Network 10, Corica also said the key was “looking after both of them”, as he hopes to have the duo at his full disposal for next weekend’s season defining clash.

The 1-1 draw extended Sydney’s unbeaten run to seven consecutive games, where they will look to become the first interstate team since February 2022 to beat City at AAMI Park.

Sydney could have been going in with the advantage had it not been for the offside flag as both Le Fondre and Rhyan Grant had goals disallowed.

Corica was pleased with how his side performed at Allianz and believes they are well placed to come away with a win next Friday.

“Well, we capitalised (on our chances), they were just slightly offside,” Corica said.

Sydney FC are capable of upsetting the Premiers in Melbourne

“(We) played really well again, I think we had more chances than them. We created more stuff, we defended really well, bit sloppy on their goal, obviously early on as well, set us back a little bit.

“But again, showed great character coming back, these boys, they’ve got great belief at the moment. It’s another game without a loss and I think it’s seven in a row.

“So we go down there next week with the belief that we’re going to win.”