By Rab Smith / asbpremiership
DUNEDIN - Faced with dwindling resources ahead of their ASB Premiership showdown with high-flyers Auckland City, coach Malcolm Fleming says his side will strive to be competitive at Tahuna Park on Sunday.
"Paul Seaman is out, Tim Horner is out, Phil Ruggles is AWOL, Nathan Knox is in Australia, Tristan Prattley has ‘flu, and striker Ant Hancock has a fractured arm which necessitates him playing with a light weight cast – all before one of our most important ASB matches," lamented Fleming.
The burly tactician had hoped Seaman would pass a late fitness test before naming the former Welsh age group international in his match day squad.
Sadly for Fleming and Otago, Seaman failed that fitness test, and Horner’s injury will keep Otago’s captain out for the rest of the season with a pelvic problem which could involve a stress fracture, and may need a serious operation.
Fleming reckoned that his top defender will rest for at least a month, then be checked out by a specialist regarding the need for an operation.
Until more is known, Horner's top flight return could be up to a year away.
Horner’s recent partnership with Prattley in central defence promised great things, but now Prattley is running a fever and also seems unlikely for Sunday.
The bad news keeps coming for Otago United with CEO Barry Van Gorp admitted to hospital after he suffered a heart attack.
But Fleming believes Otago United will overcome adversity and regroup.
"Against Auckland we will strive to be competitive,’"said Fleming.
Fleming's intention is to promote some of the youngsters who performed well in the recent 4-4 draw with Wellington Phoenix ‘A’ in the ASB Challenge match.
Goalkeeper Adam Highfield, centreback Tom Sadd, right fullback Tom Connor, and central midfield ersJames Reichwein and Andy Coburn will be relied upon to give Otago strength through the middle of the park.
Up front Arron Burgess and Chris Anderson will be asked to probe a stingy Auckland City defence.
Anderson made a fine debut for Otago last week, and other striking options are Ant Hancock, sturdy James Govan, the pacey Harley Rodeka, and youngsters Liam Lockhart, Morgan Day, Sam Mepham, Matt Brook and James Watson.
Despite Fleming's multitude of options, opposite numbers Ramon Tribulietx and Aaron McFarland won't be quaking in their boots.
Otago has managed upsets in the past which includes a 1-0 win over Auckland at Kiwitea St courtesy of a goal by Vanuatu international Jean Victor Maleb.
Two goalless draws in two seasons gives further reason for southern optimism but the stark reality is Auckland has never lost a game to Otago in Dunedin - a record that began in 2004.
Auckland City will also welcome back All Whites World Cup hero Ivan Vicelich and midfield stalwart Adam Dickinson.
Riki van Steeden is dropped as Auckland City seek to extend their winning sequence, and keep pressure on top team Waitakere which is six points ahead.
Long time City favourite James Pritchett is in line to win his 99th ASB Premiership career appearance, while former Otago and Canterbury favourite, Stu Kelly, could achieve his 92nd.
Paul SEAMAN faces a fitness test before coach Malcolm FLEMING can name the midfielder veteran in his squad.
Auckland City welcome back All Whites World Cup hero Ivan VICELICH and midfield stalwart Adam DICKINSON.
Riki van STEEDEN is deselected as Auckland City seek to extend their winning sequence.
Alistair RICKERBY continues treatment for a dislocated shoulder.
James PRITCHETT will make his 99th ASB Premiership career appearance, if selected. Stu KELLY will make his 92nd ASB Premiership career appearance, if selected.
Otago United achieved their best ever home result over Auckland City last season when they grabbed a 0-0 draw. The Southerners repeated the performance at Kiwitea St earlier this season when they drew 0-0 in Week Five.
Auckland City has never lost an away game to Otago United – in eight matches in Dunedin, Auckland has won seven and drawn one.
1- Adam HIGHFIELD (GK)
1- Jacob SPOONLEY (GK)
6- Tom SADD
2- Angel BERLANGA
8- Paul SEAMAN
3- Ian HOGG
9- Aaron BURGESS
4- Sam CAMPBELL
11- Andy COBURN
6- Stu KELLY
12- James REICHWIEN
7- James PRITCHETT
13- Callum FLAWS (GK)
8- David MULLIGAN
16- James GOVAN
10- Luis CORRALES
17- Tim HORNER (c)
11- Daniel KOPRIVCIC
18- Harley RODEKA
12- Liam LITTLE (GK)
19- Chris ANDERSON
13- Alex FENERIDIS
20- Matt BROOK
14- Adam DICKINSON
21- Liam LOCKHART
15- Ivan VICELICH (c)
23- Ant HANCOCK
17- Adam McGEORGE
26- Tristan PRATTLEY
19- Daniel MORGAN
27- Morgan DAY
22- Andrew MILNE
28- Sam MEPHAN
23- Adam THOMAS