Rogic and Del Piero

Marked … Del Piero is checked by Tom Rogic. Photo: Brendan Esposito

SYDNEY FC drawcard Alessandro Del Piero needs better protection from referees or he will continue to miss A-League games, his coach Frank Farina says.

Sydney's away clash with Adelaide United on New Year's Eve lost its major attraction when the Italian megastar was ruled out with calf and Achilles soreness. Farina said the injuries were a result of Del Piero being repeatedly fouled during the Sky Blues' 1-0 win against the Central Coast Mariners.

''Alessandro has pulled up really sore … and he isn't fit to travel to Adelaide,'' Farina said on Sunday. ''He got fouled eight or 10 times during the match and, with the short turnaround, he hasn't been able to train and he's not fit to play. It's a blow for us and a shame for the people of Adelaide but I think there needs to be better protection for him on the field. We play a physical game, and Alessandro is a big boy who can handle himself, but he is getting kicked repeatedly, and if that continues he will miss games through injury.''

Strong ticket sales have been reported by Adelaide United for the festive match against Sydney, mostly from fans planning to see Del Piero. Meanwhile, the second-placed Reds enter the match with a cloud over their out-of-favour striker Sergio van Dijk, who might leave soon.

The 2010-11 Golden Boot winner has played just three games this season, and told the club he wants to leave, with Indonesia or Thailand possible destinations.

''Sergy is still talking about Indonesia so hopefully we get some sort of answer to where he's headed in the next week or so,'' Reds coach John Kosmina said.

''The club have spoken to him and they are confidential [talks] … it has been fairly open dialogue between the two parties.

''Serg has been quite open, and wants to go for family reasons.''

Van Dijk's uncertain future comes as Adelaide try to return to the winner's list, having lost their past two games - results Kosmina suggested would ultimately benefit his players.

''You have got to expect to lose games throughout the course of the season,'' Kosmina said.

''Not much has changed, the players are still the same players, and I think the last couple of weeks will probably draw their focus back in.

''It is probably a better assessment of where we are as a group as well, how things have panned out.

''The season was almost going too well, and maybe we needed a kick up the backside.''

AAP