Brillante to cover suspended Grant in Big Blue

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Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold named three options to play at right-back against Melbourne Victory but the ex-Jets midfielder is the favourite

Josh Brillante shapes as the favourite to start at right-back for Sydney FC in place of the suspended Rhyan Grant when the Sky Blues visit Melbourne Victory on Thursday.

Sydney coach Graham Arnold indicated on Tuesday that he has three main options to take Grant's place in the Big Blue in Brillante, Aaron Calver and new signing Jordy Buijs.

Despite Buijs' clearance having come through, it is likely the Dutchman will start on the bench at Etihad Stadium, which would mean Calver would be required alongside Alex Wilkinson at centre-back as has been the case in Sydney's the past two matches.

That would mean Brillante, who has extensive experience in defence from his time in Italy and at Newcastle Jets, would move to right-back with Milos Dimitrijevic to replace him in central midfield.

"We've got great options. Calver has played at right back for us on occasion, Jordy Buijs' clearance has come through, Josh Brillante played for 6-8 months in Serie B in Italy at right-back so we've got plenty of options," Arnold said on Tuesday.

"The Dutchman [Buijs] will be in the squad. Whether he starts or comes off the bench is another thing."

While losing Grant - who along with Seb Ryall has signed a two-year contract extension with the Sky Blues - for the top-of-the-table clash is a blow for Sydney, Arnold declared his team will be ready to defend their unbeaten record in Melbourne.

Sydney have yet to lose in 2016-17 and will be looking to extend their eight-point lead over second-placed Victory, who have lost their past two A-League matches.

"We know that Melbourne are going to come out fighting, we're ready for that fight, we've got the players that are prepared for the fight," Arnold said.

"You've got to win the battle, you've got to win the fight for the second ball, you've got to be prepared for the physical battle."

In the first of two games between the Sky Blues and the Big V in the next six rounds, many believe Sydney could wrap up the premiership with a win as they would sit 11 points clear of Victory with 10 games remaining.

But Arnold wasn't interested in talking about silverware.

"We're not even thinking about the Premier's Plate," he said.

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"It's one game at a time and we know that Melbourne are going to come out fighting and we've got the players who are prepared for the fight."

 

 

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