SOCCER
SOCCER

Reds sweat on injury toll ahead of cup final

Injury-hit Adelaide United may be without up to half-a-dozen key men as it chases history in the FFA Cup final.

The cup-holder will bid for a record third knockout title when it hosts Melbourne City in the Hindmarsh Stadium decider - its fourth in six years - on Wednesday night.

But the Reds are sweating on the fitness of four players and have already ruled out another two, in the wake of Sunday's 2-1 A-League loss away to the same opponent.

Coach Gertjan Verbeek confirmed centre back Jordan Elsey will miss the final with the knee injury he sustained in the round-one loss to Sydney FC.

The Dutch manager said midfielder Mirko Boland (hamstring) and forward George Blackwood (hip), who were also sidelined on the weekend, remain in doubt.

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Adelaide United centre back Jordan Elsey has been ruled out of the FFA Cup final due to a knee injury. Picture: Sarah Reed
Adelaide United centre back Jordan Elsey has been ruled out of the FFA Cup final due to a knee injury. Picture: Sarah Reed

Defender Yared Abetew, substituted with an ankle problem during his first-team debut, will be assessed in the coming days, while star recruit James Troisi is ineligible.

Winger Ben Halloran is another under a cloud, after he pulled out on the morning of the league fixture with a stomach bug.

"Hopefully he (Halloran) can travel (home) tomorrow (Monday)," said Verbeek, following the AAMI Park reverse.

"But if you are sick you can't go on the plane, you have to say here.

"He (Halloran) was not fit enough to travel with the boys (to the game), to sit on the bench or be there.

"Maybe it's only food poisoning or something like that, we don't know.

Coach Gertjan Verbeek during Adelaide United’s A-League loss to Melbourne City. Picture: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
Coach Gertjan Verbeek during Adelaide United’s A-League loss to Melbourne City. Picture: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

"It's hard, but we like to play in the final.

"We (will) see in three days if they (injured players) recover now for the final."

Right back Ryan Strain will return for the cup clash, having missed Sunday's contest due to suspension.

Verbeek said the fighting spirit of his charges, who rallied from a 2-0 deficit for the second straight week only to again fall short, was reason for optimism ahead of the final.

"It was a good second half and maybe a draw was possible," said Verbeek, after Riley McGree's 67th-minute strike raised hopes of a late comeback.

"You learn always and we have already played three times (in pre-season) against them (City).

"I know their philosophy and their trainer also knows now our philosophy.

Ben Halloran is in doubt for the FFA Cup final after missing the Adelaide United’s A-League clash with Melbourne City due to illness. Picture: Mark Brake/Getty Images
Ben Halloran is in doubt for the FFA Cup final after missing the Adelaide United’s A-League clash with Melbourne City due to illness. Picture: Mark Brake/Getty Images

"We hope we can use the situation that we are playing at home (in the final).

"I hope there are a lot of people there … so that's an advantage.

"Today we could have with a little bit of luck won this game.

"(But) we have no points and we have to prepare them now for Wednesday, so that they have the belief that they can win."

Adelaide faces another short turnaround after the knockout decider, as it travels to face Newcastle on Saturday.

Verbeek said Troisi, who is yet to make his Reds bow due to a lack of match fitness, will train this week in a bid to be selected for the Jets fixture.