19/04/2024

Brisbane Roar captain Tom Aldred is out of Friday's trip to Melbourne Victory (Image: Brisbane Roar - Website)

Brisbane Roar take their seven match unbeaten men’s A-League run to AAMI Park in Melbourne on Friday, but will do so without their captain Tom Aldred or any Brisbane fans.

Roar head coach Warren Moon confirmed on Thursday that his defensive lynchpin picked up a knock in their draw with Western United last week and will miss Friday’s game as a precaution.

“Tom took a knock to the voice box late in the game the other night, and the medical team have rightly decided to exercise caution, so he’s out tomorrow,” Moon explained.

The game will be Victory’s first home fixture since the Australian Premier League imposed sanctions on the Melbourne club, who confirmed earlier this week that no tickets are being sold to the general public as a result.

This means there will be no away support for Moon’s team at AAMI Park, with the crowd limited to existing Victory members. Even they will have to sit in unfamiliar surrounds given the ongoing closure of the North End Active section of the ground.

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Moon was unsure of whether the lack of supporters would work in either team’s favour, commenting that “it could work both ways given Melbourne’s recent run of form.”

“We’re just focused on what happens on the pitch to be honest, and our aim is to come away with three points,” he added.

That may be a challenge, with Aldred’s absence adding to Moon’s selection dilemmas, which already include a lack of striking options since marquee striker Charlie Austin’s recent decision to return to the UK.

Moon confirmed that the club are exploring options to replace Austin in January, but in the meantime they will continue to rely on goals from elsewhere in the team.

One highlight for the Roar in recent weeks has been the form of Carlo Armiento, who has scored in three of his last five appearances, and Moon was keen to praise the Adelaide born winger’s impact.

“We’re very happy with Carlo. Although we don’t expect him to fill Charlie’s boots, his goals in recent weeks have been very timely,” Moon said.

Their opponents on Friday night have their own issues, having lost four of their last five home fixtures, and find themselves second bottom on the ladder.

One of Victory’s biggest problems this season has been putting the ball in the back of the net, with a paltry nine goals from their nine games to date.

Head Coach Tony Popovic addressed this concern at Thursday’s press conference, backing his marquee signing Nani to break his goal drought against Brisbane.  

“We’re seeing very good signs at training. The chances are being created and he could have had a couple of goals against Central Coast, but if we can get him in those areas once more, I believe that once he gets one it will flow from there,” Popovic told reporters.

The former Manchester United winger has had 21 shots without reward this season, the most of any A-League Men’s player yet to score a goal.  

If Melbourne’s midfield can supply the opportunities on Friday night, the law of averages will surely be in favour of the Portuguese import finally registering a goal, especially with Brisbane’s key defensive pillar Tom Aldred missing.

Although the Roar are unbeaten in seven games, their record at AAMI Park is dismal, having only one of their last 11 A-League Men games at the venue. With Brisbane also struggling for goals (just eight in nine games this season), it could be a low scoring affair, and the lack of fans to rouse their teams into action will make Friday’s fixture a surreal one for those involved.  

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