Big derby stage looms for Tim Cahill magic
Photo Source: AAP
Melbourne City are yet to reveal their plans for Tim Cahill in Saturday night's Melbourne derby but regardless of whether the Socceroo starts the match, fireworks are guaranteed.
Cahill, a substitute with the national team in Tuesday night's 1-1 draw with Japan, will make his A-League debut this weekend in the furnace of a Melbourne derby.
Teammate Anthony Caceres backed the 36-year-old to leave his mark against Melbourne Victory, whatever the role handed to him by coach John van 't Schip.
"He's kept himself in top notch. He's back and ready to go," he said.
Cahill's service with the Socceroos resulted in an absence from club training for 10 days in the lead-up to the match but Caceres believes his experience would override any negative consequences.
The 24-year-old said he was struck by the different emotions that the striker had brought to the club since signing.
To the playing group, Cahill delivers a "calmness, an assuredness" but, to the fans, it's something else entirely.
"Having Tim around builds excitement," he said.
"He's achieved great things and he wants to achieve things here. He's not here for a holiday - he's looking to help the game grow and have his presence felt," he said.
Cahill isn't the only one whose place in the starting 11 is in doubt.
Van 't Schip has assembled possibly the A-League's deepest bank of attacking talent, including Cahill and golden boot winner Bruno Fornaroli.
Argentines Nicolas Colazo and Fernando Brandan will contend to start, along with title-winning pair Bruce Kamau, Nick Fitzgerald and youngsters Steve Kuzmanovski and Braedyn Crowley.
Despite proving the match winner last week, Caceres said he wasn't even sure whether he would start at Etihad Stadium.
"Competition for places in our squad this year is very, very strong," he said.
"I see that as a positive thing. We're all on the same page working towards one goal which is trying to achieve something this year.
"Whether my role is to start or come off the bench, hopefully we get the win and that's the important thing."
That attacking squadron will need to fire, especially given City are without first-choice goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen.
Sorensen showed his class in City's last derby victory, making an incredible 12 saves to deny Victory and hold on for a 2-1 win.
Caceres backed reserve gloveman Dean Bouzanis to make his first City start a memorable one.
"He came on against Wellington and held his own ... a couple of crucial saves to keep us in the lead," he said.
"Deano is confident and looking good at training and I think he's ready to go."