March 27, 2015 12:01:53 UK
Sydney FC defender Nikola Petkovic is backing Shane Smeltz to cause problems for his former club when the Sky Blues travel to Wellington Phoenix on Sunday.
Sydney are without the A-League’s leading scorer, 16-goal Marc Janko, through international duty as they start what Petkovic regards as five finals to end the regular season.
His place up front will go to Smeltz, second in the league’s all-time scoring list and who will be returning to the club where he scored 21 goals in 39 games.
He is a really top player and I’m happy to see him on the pitch on Sunday.
Sydney FC are 2.90 to beat Wellington, who are 2.30 with the draw 3.50.
The Sky Blues are four points behind leaders Wellington as they travel to Westpac Stadium, for the first of two trips to the New Zealand capital – they will finish their regular season there on 26th April.
Smeltz has scored six goals from 16 appearances so far this campaign, and Petkovic said: “Marc scores a lot of goals in the last few weeks and is very important for us but Shane Smeltz is not someone who is a replacement.
“He is a really top player and I’m happy to see him on the pitch on Sunday because he really is a great player. We need to work very hard on Sunday and give our best and with a bit of luck we will come back with three points.”
Sydney lost for the first time in nine games last weekend, going down at home to Melbourne City, and now face the toughest run-in to the end of the season of any of the five contenders for the Premier’s Plate.
They have just one more home game, against Adelaide United, and will finish the campaign with three consecutive away matches against Perth Glory, Newcastle Jets and Wellington.
Petkovic said: “The final five are really tough games. It’s all about us and we have enough quality and with a bit of luck we can do something.”
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