Sydney FC coach John Kosmina has compared the introduction of his Olyroo recruits Mark Bridge and Stuart Musialik to a new romance and hopes they can add spark against Central Coast on Saturday despite a lack of familiarity with their teammates.
The former Newcastle Jets duo of midfielder Musialik and striker Bridge will make their first A-League starts for Sydney in the NSW derby at Gosford.
While Bridge played a 30-minute cameo off the bench last weekend, the two Olyroos have had little time to work with their teammates since returning from Beijing.
"They will be out to impress, they've only had three training sessions with us, we gave them a few days off after returning from the Olympics," Kosmina said.
"So it's still in the getting to know you stage, but that's like a new romance, it will be a lot more fun in the early stages.
"They are both intelligent footballers and there are some basic laws of the universe in football that don't change.
"They know they've already got that in their makeup."
Joining Bridge and Musialik will be Alex Brosque, who returns from suspension.
"That will definitely strengthen their team," Mariners coach Lawrie McKinna said.
He expected a great atmosphere at Bluetongue Stadium for a match-up that invariably produces drama and goals and, with two meetings last season raining 16 goals, both coaches expected a tough game as their respective sides sought to build on first-round draws.
While he welcomed defender Nigel Boogaard back from injury, McKinna reported striker Dylan Macallister's A-League debut would again be delayed by a rib problem.
"He should be okay for next week, he's one or two days short, he's steadily improved," McKinna said.
"But we've got Matt Simon, Sasho Petrovski and Nik Mrdja back so there's no point risking him. Striker is the only position we've got plenty of numbers in so that makes a change."
Macallister said the inclusion of Simon for Matthew Osman and Boogaard for David D'Apuzzo were the only changes to his starting lineup, though former Socceroo goal keeper Mark Bosnich would be on the bench.
With his first choice keeper Danny Vukovic suspended after this game, McKinna suggested he might give Bosnich a run at some stage on Saturday.
"It would be great to get Bozza on, it depends on how the score and the game is going," McKinna said.
With Simon finally breaking his A-League gold drought for the Mariners last week, McKinna was confident the Olyroo striker would start netting regularly for the Mariners.
"Matty is hungry to score goals and I think he's got goals in him. With his work rate he makes it easier for the other strikers playing alongside him," McKinna said.