Vegalta Sendai-bound midfielder Michael McGlinchey is confident Central Coast Mariners have the quality and steel to secure back-to-back Hyundai A-League wins for the first time this season when the Club takes on Melbourne Heart at Gosford’s Bluetongue Stadium on Sunday.
McGlinchey will play his final fixture for the Mariners this campaign at the weekend, before venturing to the land of the rising sun to join Graham Arnold’s J.League outfit on loan for 2014.
Fresh from keeping his cool and securing a last-gasp winner for Central Coast against Perth Glory on New Year’s Eve, McGlinchey said the yellow and navy possess the playing power and sense of purpose required to continue the team’s climb up the competition ladder via a win over Heart.
“Obviously Heart are coming off the back of a bad run, but with a new manager (John van’t Schip) they will be fired up,” McGlinchey said. “We need to be ruthless, we need to be solid in defence and keep a clean sheet. If we can do that, our quality will shine through.”
“They’re (Heart) going to be a dangerous team now with a new manager, but we have to focus on ourselves. We’re pretty solid at home at Bluetongue and I think with the quality we’ve got combined with the fans coming out to support we will have enough on the day.”
McGlinchey, who has been at the Mariners since 2009 and is set for his 134th appearance for the Club in all competitions on Sunday, admits he expects to feel mixed emotions when referee Jarred Gillett blows the full time whistle – his excitement at testing himself in Asia’s most outstanding domestic competition at odds with 12 months away from “the boys”.
“It’s going to be sad to leave,” he said. “The boys have been fantastic for the years I have been here. It’s just one of those things, I’m going to Japan to join Arnie (Graham Arnold) and I’m really looking forward to the challenge, so it will be a bit of a bittersweet moment.”
“It’s like a family here to be honest, they’re a great bunch of lads. I’ll miss the Coast too, especially in the summer. You only have to go two minutes and you’re at the beach so that lifestyle will leave me for a while but I’m sure it will be nice in Japan as well.”
McGlinchey said he hasn’t researched his new hometown of Sendai too much in preparation for his departure to Japan in the middle of the month. The ultimate professional, the nimble New Zealander has instead has sought to remain focussed on his commitments with Central Coast before worrying about reigning supreme with Sendai.
“I’ve done a little bit of research but I’ve tried to keep it under wraps because I’m still here at the Mariners,” he said. “I’ve not let myself get too carried away but I’m sure in the next few days I will get more in depth. I’ve checked out a few of the sites and it (Sendai) looks like a nice place.”
“I fly to Japan on the 14th of January and then we have a 35 day training camp in the south of Japan, so I’m pretty much into the pre-season from the middle of January and then the season starts in the first week of March.”
Central Coast Mariners Head Coach Phil Moss has named an initial 18-player squad for Sunday’s Heart operation, with Marcos Flores a notable absentee from the list. Unfortunately, the outstanding Argentine playmaker sustained a knee injury at training on Thursday, and will not be available for selection at the weekend.
Defenders Brent Griffiths and Hayden Morton, as well as versatile midfielder Anthony Caceres, are in contention to feature against Heart, while Nick Fitzgerald and Matt Simon are two others in line for game time against the men from Melbourne.
Bernie Ibini – who is in full training with the Club – will be eligible for squad selection from Hyundai A-League round 14 when the Mariners travel south over the Tasman Sea to take on Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium.
Defender Joshua Rose will be recognised in the Melbourne Heart pre-game for his commitment and service to the Club. Rose recently made his 100th Hyundai A-League appearance for the Mariners against Western Sydney Wanderers.
Central Coast Mariners Squad vs. Melbourne Heart:
1. Justin PASFIELD (Gk), 2. Daniel MCBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Marcel SEIP, 5. Zachary ANDERSON, 6. Brent GRIFFITHS, 7. John HUTCHINSON (C), 8. Nick MONTGOMERY, 9. Mitchell DUKE, 11. Nick FITZGERALD, 12. Liam REDDY (Gk), 13. Hayden MORTON, 14. Michael MCGLINCHEY, 15. Storm ROUX, 16. Trent SAINSBURY, 17. Anthony CACERES, 19. Matt SIMON, 21. Mile STERJOVSKI *two to be omitted*
Ins: 6. Brent GRIFFITHS, 13. Hayden MORTON, 17. Anthony CACERES (all promoted)
Outs: 10. Marcos FLORES (knee – tests Friday)
Unavailable: 22. Tom SLATER (back – 1 week), 23. Adam KWASNIK (knee – season)