By John Donnachie asbpremiership.co.nz
CHRISTCHURCH - YoungHeart Manawatu's preparations for Sunday's clash at Christchurch are in the words of coach Bob Sova “in disarray”.
With at least 6 players extremely doubtful and Michael White suspended, the visitors are anticipating a difficult afternoon.
“If we were at full strength I would be more upbeat. But Canterbury are red hot favourites. It is so bad, if we had to play tomorrow, I do not think we could field 11 players,” said Sova.
Lets forget their last outing against the Cantabs when they lost 6-0, Sova believes it will be the weakest squad he has ever brought down to Christchurch in 6 years.
“We have to be realistic. Our plan will be to try and contain them and hopefully hit them on the break," Sova said.
Canterbury United coach Keith Braithwaite meanwhile scoffed at suggestions that Manawatu would be easy opponents come Sunday.
“I think that 6-0 scoreline flattered us a bit. Everyone is capable of beating anyone in this league. From our point of view we train the same, and our overall preparation remains the same. We are sorely focused on what is happening today.”
Braithwaite was delighted with last week's stunning 4-2 win at Team Wellington. He said it had been an excellent performance considering it was their first outing of the season.
“We were a bit sceptical going into it and we thought we might be under-done. But we have a good blend of youth and experience in this squad and barring any serious injuries and suspensions we can build on this and look beyond just aiming for the top four.”
Not surprisingly, following that win (their first ever in the capital) the red and blacks remain unchanged for this weekend. Captain Dan Terris is expected to make his 90th appearance for the club at United's new temporary home of Linfield Park.
Braithwaite was hopeful the change of venue would not affect his side's home-town advantage this season .
“It has been used as a rugby ground, so we've been training on it this week and getting used to the surface and new surroundings. Our record in Christchurch is good and we want to maintain that. The fans have been great at English Park in the past and we want them to continue that for us now at Linfield Park.”
Matt SMITH and Michael McKNIGHT are drafted into the squad.
Nobuyoshi ISHI (groin) and Michael WHITE (suspended) are missing while Graham WILKES returns to the ASB Youth League squad.
Dan TERRIS will make his 90th ASB Premiership career appearance, if selected.
Canterbury United’s 6-0 win over YoungHeart Manawatu last season was the first time the Dragons have beaten Manawatu in eight attempts on home ground.
On eight previous visits south for this fixture, YoungHeart Manawatu boasts five wins, two draws and a solitary defeat – last season’s 6-0 thrashing. The biggest win over Canterbury United was a 6-2 success back in 2006-07 season.
ASB Premiership - Week Four
Sunday 14 November, 2010
1-Tom BATTY (GK)
1- Matt BORREN (GK)
2- Dan TERRIS (c)
3- Matt SMITH
3- Nick WORTELBOER
4- Colin FALVEY
4- Gareth ROWE
5- Josh CHETTLEBURGH
5- Tom SCHWARZ
6- Matt KENNEDY
6- Glen COLLINS
7- Jason HAYNE
7- Aaron CLAPHAM
8- Nathan COOKSLEY
9- Russell KAMO
10- Adam COWAN (c)
11- Ryan FAICHNIE
11- Hamish MacKAY
12- Gagame FENI
12- Nathan MORATH
14- Joe MURRAY
14- Michael McKNIGHT
15- Danny ATTWELL
18- Dale HIGHAM
17- Ryan TIPPETT
19- Nick HAYWARD (GK)
22- Coey TURIPA (GK)
20- Willie HODGE
23- Andrew BARTON
21- Jared BLOOR
25- Andy PITMAN