A-League Premiers Melbourne City are not worried about potential injuries to Andrew Nabbout and Rostyn Griffiths ahead of the Finals Series, according to assistant coach Des Buckingham.
Experienced centre-half Griffiths was substituted in the 17th minute of City's 2-1 defeat against the Newcastle Jets on Thursday after appearing to be suffering pain from his hamstring, while Nabbout departed the game at half-time after also seeming to be experiencing discomfort in his leg.
Buckingham said that Griffiths' removal was a precautionary, with City preparing for a Semi-Final showdown at AAMI Park in 10 days time, while the assistant coach explained Nabbout was always due to play 30 to 45 minutes as the Socceroo continues his bid to regain full match sharpness.
Nathaniel Atkinson got through 45 minutes from the bench, but head coach Patrick Kisnorbo is still waiting on attacker Craig Noone's return. Buckingham revealed that Adrian Luna picked up a contact injury during the game but he could not yet provide an update on the status of Griffiths and Nabbout.
"Not at the moment. Andy [Nabbout] was always due to play between 30 and 45 minutes, so again we’re just easing him back in," Buckingham said.
"We’ll assess him once we get chance to now. And also Rostyn [Griffiths] felt a little bit tight. I don’t think it’s anything too serious but it was more precautionary just to look after him especially with what we’ve got coming up."
Despite lifting their first A-League silverware as Premiers, City closed out the season with only one win in their last five games, capped off by the Jets' 2-1 triumph at Netsrata Jubilee Stadium to close out the campaign on Thursday.
Stefan Colakovski's opener was cancelled out by goals from 16-year-old Archie Goodwin and a late Apostolos Stamatelopoulos winner, but Buckingham insists City have positives to take from their underwhelming run into the Finals Series.
"I wouldn’t say [we have] concern," Buckingham added. "We’ve been trying a few different things that we knew we would have to try in preparation for the finals.
"We’ve certainly had a look at a few things over the past couple of weeks. The most important thing is we’ve got minutes into players. We’ve had a lot of young players come into the squad which has been great to see.
"It’s just about now trying to prepare ourselves over the next 10 days to try and put ourselves in the best position for that game."
Jets coach Craig Deans believes the mentality and attitude his players showed by turning over the newly-crowned Premiers proved they deserved to avoid the wooden spoon – an unwanted prize that went to Melbourne Victory for the first time in their club's history.
"Nobody wants to be in that position and someone has to be – and we didn’t want it to be ourselves," Deans said.
"I think we’ve had a tough year with lots of things going on but I think looking at the result, and the way we’ve been in every game for most of the year, I don’t think we deserved to finish last."
A-League 2021 Finals Series – Elimination Finals
Central Coast Mariners v Macarthur FC
Saturday, 12 June 2021
Venue: Central Coast Stadium
Brisbane Roar v Adelaide United
Sunday, 13 June 2021
Venue: Moreton Daily Stadium