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Melbourne City sinners return to bolster line-up in crucial clash with Wellington

It will be all change for Melbourne City again this weekend as coach Michael Valkanis gets access to six of the seven sinners who were suspended from the club’s 2-2 draw with Brisbane Roar last week.

City’s collection of youngsters and squad and fringe players performed in terrific style on that occasion to come back from a two-goal half-time deficit but it is unlikely that Valkanis will retain too many of the newcomers in the starting line-up.

Bruno Fornaroli, Fernando Brandan, Luke Brattan, Tim Cahill, Osama Malik and Manny Muscat – who could be facing his old club, Wellington Phoenix – are back in contention for the match across the Tasman on Saturday afternoon. Only goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis, who is suspended for a further four games, is absent from the group.

This is a must-win game for City, who are clinging on to fourth spot just ahead of Perth Glory on goal difference, two points behind Brisbane and nine behind Melbourne Victory.

City has only won twice since their FFA Cup triumph over Sydney on November 30, but Valkanis, who took over at the end of December, says the big-name players have not taken things for granted.

“The team is not resting on their laurels,” Valkanis said. “As a team we are moving steadily. People analyse the result but not the performance.

“This is a massive game for us [but] I can’t control how people think. Supporters and the media look at the result, we have to look at things a little bit deeper.”

Valkanis remains confident City are on track to kick start their season in the final third of the campaign and make a mark in the play-offs.

“We are lucky we are playing in a country where there is finals football,” he said.

“I thought the performance was good [against Brisbane]. We played a bit differently and executed the game plan very well. .

“It’s something we have been working on. We are preparing to have a bit of flexibility in finals.”

City women’s triumph in the W-League grand final was a reminder to the men how to come back from adversity. They won the final after finishing only fourth and winning twice, including in the grand final, on the road.

“The W-League team is an inspiration to the men. The women did a tremendous job,” says Valkanis, noting that their efforts were not lost on his players.

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