There will be an absence of experience in the Brisbane Roar midfield on Friday night against Western Sydney Wanderers with Socceroo Matt McKay ruled out but his partner in the middle of the park, Liam Miller, doesn't expect their attractive style of play to suffer as a result.
The A-League leaders sailed to a commanding seven-point lead at the top of the table despite hefty injury tolls throughout the season and the Northern Irishman expects that trend to continue in the pressure-cooker environment at Pirtek Stadium.
The Roar signalled their title credentials with a 3-1 win at home over the Wanderers earlier in the season and while the atmosphere in Parramatta will make it difficult to replicate that performance, Miller has put his faith in the young replacements for McKay.
The Australian international has not played since the club's 0-0 draw with Perth in last month due to an ankle injury. While Miller concedes they have lost valuable leadership in the middle of the park, the likes of Diogo Ferreira and 18-year-old Devante Clut have showed their worth in wins over Wellington and Central Coast and he expects more with the arrival of Steven Lustica.
''Matty's been playing super to be fair. He'd be a loss in any team and hopefully he will be back soon enough,'' Miller said. ''He's got tremendous experience and everything else but at the same time it gives other people opportunities. Diogo's come in recently and done smashing, young Devante started and scored a cracker. Positions are all over and the manager would be delighted with people coming in and doing well.''
New signing Lustica could be an immediate inclusion in the starting line-up against the Wanderers on Friday night after completing his first training session with Brisbane on Wednesday. The 22-year-old rejoins the Roar from Adelaide after a loan-spell at the end of last season and his recent experience with his teammates could ease his transition.
''Hopefully he will hit the ground running whenever he gets the call but everyone's just really focused for Friday night and we know it's a massive game. We're certainly not taking it lightly, it's a hostile crowd down there and everyone is looking forward to it,'' Miller said.
Clut scored a stunning strike on debut against Wellington Phoenix a fortnight ago and while he stunned the league with his long-range goal in his first professional game, Miller wasn't surprised.
''Not really to be honest, the gaffer has a good mix here and the young boys that train with us, they deserve to be there and you can see the quality they have,'' Miller said. ''Devante, he's a young kid and he had a smashing debut and I think any young boy, if they're doing the business in the youth league then the manager is certainly not afraid to throw him in there so it will do him the world of confidence.''