April 23, 2015 11:57:45 UK
Midfielder Erik Paartalu is backing Melbourne City to be competitive in the A-League Finals Series despite concerns over their away record.
City are guaranteed to finish fifth in the final table, regardless of the result of their regular season finale against Adelaide United on Saturday, where they are 3.60 to win.
It means they will be away either to United or Wellington Phoenix in the elimination final. If they get through that match, they would have to travel again in the semi-finals.
We’re a tough team to break down; results have shown we don’t give too much away in recent times.
John van ‘t Schip’s side have been out of form away from home since the turn of the year, picking up just five points out of a possible 24. Defeats have come against the likes of Central Coast Mariners (twice) and Western Sydney Wanderers, who have both missed out on the finals.
Paartalu, though, feels positive about the club’s overall form in the past few weeks. Before they lost 3-1 to Perth Glory last Sunday, they had only conceded six goals from eight games.
“I think teams will probably not want to play us in the finals,” Paartalu said. “We’re a tough team to break down; results have shown we don’t give too much away in recent times.”
The 28-year-old, who signed on with City on a four-year deal before this season, feels the tight nature of the top half of the table suggests anyone can beat anyone else in a one-off game.
He added: “I don’t see why not. I don’t think there’s any team putting their hands up at the moment to say they’re unbeatable.
“We won’t be getting carried away, but in our position we’ll quietly go about our business.”
City, who are 17.00 to win the Grand Final, will have to do without midfielder Jacob Melling for the rest of the season after the 20-year-old picked up a knee injury in training last week.
Melling, who has played 14 games this season, had surgery on his right knee on Monday.
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