RACING THE CLOCK: Melbourne City skipper Michael Jakobsen failed to complete training on Tuesday. Picture: AAP
While Newcastle Jets are set to regain captain Nigel Boogaard for Friday’s A-League semi-final with Melbourne City, the Victorians appear to be losing a race against time to have their own skipper available.
City leader Michael Jakobsen was an early departure from City’s training on Tuesday.
There was no aggravation of his thigh injury, but having already missed the last two matches with the ailment, his failure to get through a full training session puts the Danish centre-back in extreme doubt for City’s do-or-die clash in the Hunter.
The 32-year-old was the sole ever-present for Warren Joyce this season, inheriting the captain’s armband in the wake of Bruno Fornaroli’s long-term injury.
But now City face a defensive re-shuffle for the biggest match in the club’s history.
Osama Malik, who returned from injury to deputise for Jakobsen over the last fortnight, said all was not lost ahead of the semi-final.
“There’s still some hope he’ll be part of the squad,” he said.
“He’s a very important player for us. He’s a leader in our team and I’m sure he’ll play some role.”
If Jakobsen doesn’t come up, Malik is likely to stay in defence, allowing the central midfield pairing of Oliver Bozanic and Luke Brattan to continue.
Previously, Malik and Brattan had been favoured in the middle of the park.
For the Jets, Boogaard was seemingly cleared by coach Ernie Merrick to play on Friday when he declared his entire team fit and ready – save for Ben Kantarovski.
Merrick said injury-hit attacker Ronny Vargas was “looking very good” in training, freed of a groin problem that kept him out of the Jets’8-2 smashing of Central Coast.
Dario Vidosic, who has impressed over the last month, said Boogaard’s return was “no concern”.
“They’ve got good quality players and they’re second for a reason,” he said.
“It’s going to be 11 v 11. We know if we can play our football for the full 90 minutes we should have enough quality to book in the final.”
Vidosic, who played in the 2016 grand final for losing side Western Sydney, said the lure of playing in another decider was huge.
“The whole of Australian football, all eyes are on two teams,” he said.”The build-up, everything, the hard work and you get that chance to lift a trophy which is what everyone strives for.This is what we all dream of.”