Each club's unsung hero who could decide the Finals Series

They are the sometimes unnoticed, often underrated, and always essential contributors to the pursuit of Hyundai A-League success.

And on the eve of the Finals Series, now is the perfect time to shine a light on the unsung heroes behind each club’s bid to snare the silverware.

Which player could be the unheralded backbone for your club over the next few weeks?

Here's who we think deserves an overdue pat on the back.

TOP 10: The young stars who could decide the Finals Series
PREVIEW: Melbourne Victory v Wellington Phoenix
PREVIEW: Adelaide United v Melbourne City
WATCH FOR FREE: How to watch the Hyundai A-League LIVE and FREE

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Joel Chianese (Perth Glory)

Diego Castro, Andy Keogh and NAB Young Footballer of the Year nominee Chris Ikonomidis form a fearsome front three and rightly command the headlines after most Perth Glory games.

But it is to Joel Chianese's immense credit that removing one of the first-choice trio would not leave Tony Popovic with any lasting headache.

Chianese, now 29 and in his third season with Glory, is enjoying comfortably the finest campaign of his Hyundai A-League career, having hit five goals and making four assists so far.

The attacker's speed and selflessness are useful assets whether employed as a starter or substitute, and the prospect of a Grand Final date with his former side Sydney FC is sure to get his motor running.

Andrew Redmayne (Sydney FC)

Measured against the standards he has set in recent times, Andrew Redmayne will not have been entirely pleased with his performance in Sydney FC's 2-0 loss to Newcastle Jets in Round 27.

But coach Steve Corica is unlikely to dwell on his goalkeeper's display.

Redmayne has been largely excellent this season, conceding little more than a goal per game behind a defence that has not been entirely settled.

Given that three top-six teams scored more goals than the Sky Blues' 43 throughout the regular season – but only Premiers Perth conceded fewer – Redmayne's form and success in marshalling the four men ahead of him could prove crucial.

Leigh Broxham (Melbourne Victory)

Melbourne Victory's very own version of the Swiss army knife relishes this time of year.

A 290-game veteran of the competition, with the tools for every occasion, Leigh Broxham is three wins away from equalling his former team-mate Michael Theo's haul of five Grand Final victories.

Kevin Muscat's men defied the odds 12 months ago and the reliable Broxham, a player willing to sacrifice his own potential as an individual in order to meet the needs of the collective, is bound to be an important – if understated – figure in frustrating the form book once more.

Leigh Broxham
Leigh Broxham: pointing the way for Melbourne Victory

Scott Galloway (Adelaide United)

Not unlike Broxham, ex-Victory man Scott Galloway can go unnoticed as he fills gaps created by injury, suspension or form issues elsewhere in the squad.

Marco Kurz, however, never overlooks the 24-year-old: Galloway started all 27 games for Adelaide United during the regular season.

Being a readily available, safe option for both full-back positions ensures Galloway is a precious commodity for head coach Kurz; that he enters the Finals Series fresh from delivering two assists away to Brisbane Roar may be of even greater significance.

Harrison Delbridge (Melbourne City)

Warren Joyce has oscillated between a three-man defence and a back four to varying degrees of success this season.

Regardless of team shape, Harrison Delbridge has almost always been involved.

The former FC Cincinnati centre-back has started all but four matches in his first full campaign as a Hyundai A-League player, missing the Round 27 victory over Central Coast Mariners only due to the threat of suspension after accruing seven bookings during the regular season.

But with the yellow-card count zeroed for the Finals Series, Delbridge should return to the starting XI against Adelaide on Sunday and Joyce will be pleased to have his imposing, aerially dominant defender back on deck.

Alex Rufer (Wellington Phoenix)

Ranked fifth for minutes at Wellington Phoenix this term, Alex Rufer might have garnered more widespread plaudits had it not been for the highlight reels compiled by Roy Krishna and younger team-mates Liberato Cacace and NAB Young Footballer of the Year Nominee Sarpreet Singh.

Rufer is no old hand himself at 22; indeed, under Mark Rudan, the midfielder has cemented himself as a Phoenix starter for the first time in his career.

The effects of his absence became especially apparent in the heavy Round 27 defeat to Perth Glory.

With a neat technique and a work ethic tailor-made for Finals Series football, Rufer is certain to be rushed back for Friday night's massive clash at AAMI Park.

Alex Rufer
Alex Rufer: a standout in Wellington's rise this season

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