Joyce backing City's 'team of men'

Warren Joyce reckons his troops are poised to turn the corner.
Warren Joyce reckons his troops are poised to turn the corner.

If you think you know Melbourne City this A-League season, coach Warren Joyce is asking you to take another look.

Criticised as stale, defensive and meandering towards the finals, Joyce thinks City could be on the verge of a leap forward.

"There's signs. There's been signs," he said ahead of Saturday's match with Adelaide United.

Joyce is pinning his hopes on the club's new-look front three of Jamie Maclaren, Shayon Harrison and Florin Berenguer improving their connection.

The trio have started just five games together, earning their first win last week against Brisbane.

After finding their groove to belt four past the Roar, with an increased output from Berenguer particularly, Joyce is backing his 'team of men' that have kept Olyroos Lachie Wales, Nathaniel Atkinson and Riley McGree from first team action.

"They've not played loads of games together with Florin having a couple of injuries," Joyce said.

"It's still developing, still looking to get better even though it's late in the season.

"The guys that have come back from the under-23s ... they've found themselves frustratingly out of the team but it's a team of men that's in front of them and there's good competition for places."

City (6th) need one more win to seal a finals berth.

Defeating Adelaide (5th) would see Joyce's side remain in the hunt for a home final by finishing fourth.

Against United, City could be without defender Bart Schenkeveld.

The Dutchman suffered a strain kicking a ball after training and will be given as long as possible to prove his fitness.

City also boast two terrific records leading into the game: a 10-match home unbeaten run and a six-game unbeaten run over United.

Adelaide coach Marco Kurz, who has never beaten City, said the club's tactical versatility and strong squad made them hard to beat.

"Two things are very important (against City). To stay compact ... and if you have a chance, to score a goal," Kurz said.

United will be without Apostolos Stamatelopoulos after his red card last week, with Ryan Strain and Baba Diawara also at least a week from a return.

STATS THAT MATTER

* Melbourne City (6th) will seal a place in the finals and shut the door on Newcastle (7th) if they defeat Adelaide.

* After five games without a win, Adelaide are now gunning for their third victory in a row. If they get it, it will be their first streak of three wins since their title-winning season of 2015/16.

* If City avoid defeat they will set a new club record for longest unbeaten run at home; they're currently at 10.

Australian Associated Press