|By HAMISH NEAL
The Central Coast Mariners face the prospect of fielding a 'B side' in the A-League finals due to the additional pressure of playing in the AFC Champions League, according to coach Graham Arnold.
Speaking after the Mariners' 1-0 triumph over the Brisbane Roar in Gosford on Sunday, Arnold outlined the stark reality of playing two high-level competitions simultaneously.
The win secured a top-two spot for the Mariners and Arnold said he would give his side two days extra rest in the coming week before they return to training on Friday.
The 49-year-old will entertain the prospect of fielding an under-strength side in the two remaining A-League regular season matches.
Arnold said the result "might change the selection policy for next week [against Adelaide] and Melbourne Heart definitely".
"I think I'll rest a lot of players," he said.
With an eye on the AFC Champions League, Arnold said: "We have got Guizhou Renhe on the 3rd of April [at home] and then Guizhou Renhe on the Wednesday before our first semi-final.
"I've got a plan in my head of what I want to do.
"It's either a youth team in the [A-League] semi-final or a youth team in the Champions League.
"Players can't do both."
Arnold spoke about the toll the tough run of fixtures was taking on his squad.
"The expectancy level of what they are doing [is too hard]. Physically we have got 19 players and it's been tough to push 19 players," he said.
"They are just out on their feet. I have given them off until Friday and we play Sunday. There are two types of fatigue - physical and mental."
Coming international fixtures are also set to hinder the Mariners, with New Zealand midfielder Michael McGlinchey and Australian goalkeeper Mathew Ryan to miss the Adelaide clash.
Also talking after the match, Brisbane Roar coach Mike Mulvey had some tough words for the officials.
The result sees the Roar needing positive results from their two remaining games - at home to Melbourne Heart and Sydney FC - to give them any chance of making the top six.
Mulvey felt his side were subjected to a range of "niggly" and "repetitive" fouls by the Mariners which were not addressed by referee Alan Milliner.
Mulvey was also critical of how fourth official Tim McGilchrist handled his request for feedback.
"I was trying to have a word with the fourth official because he spent 20 minutes talking to Graham Arnold [prior to half-time]," he said.
"I just went over and said could I have a word please."
Mulvey said the impact of what Mariners coach Arnold said to the officials was insignificant and that his criticism was of the officials.
"[In the second half] I asked him if I could have a word and he said he didn't want to talk to me and I said, 'Well communication is out the window'," Mulvey said.
"He [McGilchrist] finally came over and asked me what I was on about."