Joyce praises ‘good man’ La Rocca as depleted City prepare to host Glory

Warren Joyce is facing the unenviable task of replacing his backline when Melbourne City host Perth Glory at AAMI Park on Sunday night.

City will be missing Ritchie De Laet and Bart Schenkeveld due to suspension while Harrison Delbridge is yet to overcome a hamstring injury suffered before last week’s Derby draw.

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Throw in the fact they are facing the Hyundai A-League’s most lethal attack and you can see why City fans may be holding their breath.

Joyce however is choosing to look on the bright side, saying City’s bad fortune will provide some under-utilised players a crucial opportunity to impress.

“They’ve done well this season, Delbridge, Bart, De Laet…it gives other lads opportunities,” Joyce told reporters.

“It’s a game that everyone wants to play in so everybody’s up for it and players that train all the time are grateful for chances so they’ve got an opportunity to play in good games and they’re keen to show what they can do.”

Iacopo La Rocca and Oriol Riera

The Englishman revealed that veteran Iacopo La Rocca would likely start alongside Curtis Good in defence while youngsters Nathaniel Atkinson and Dylan Pierias could also feature.

Joyce said that the 35-year old Italian was deserving of his chance after patiently waiting in the wings.

“La Rocca obviously, he’s an experienced pro, a good pro, a good man,” Joyce said.

“He trains hard every day, I think he’s unfortunate in some respects that you’ve got players the quality of Bart, Delbridge, Ritchie and Curtis that’s maybe stopped him from playing as many games as he maybe would have if he was at another club.

“He conducts himself in the right manner every single day, he turns up for training, wants to be part of the group, he’s engaged in the group, he looks after himself physically so he’s got an opportunity now.”

Coming up against the runaway Glory, Joyce was bullish about his team’s chances, pointing to the fact City had largely matched Perth across their encounters so far this season.

“They’re obviously well organised, well drilled,” Joyce said.

“They’ve got experienced players who know their jobs and have performed well all season. They’ve got not one but a series of goal threats, there’s five or six people who can score goals for them…I don’t think the table lies in football, they’ve done well this season.

“It’s up to us to be at our best, our max. So far the games have been even stevens so it’s a challenge that we relish.

“I think we’ve certainly created openings against them in both games, sometimes we didn’t actually get on the end and connect with some of them but Florin had a really good chance here [Melbourne] at 0-0, we had several chances when we played them in the away game.”

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