Steve Corica admits the departure of Milos Ninkovic would have an impact on high-flying Sydney FC.
The Sky Blues’ Serbian star limped off with a tight calf muscle 60 minutes into the 1-0 win against Central Coast Mariners on Saturday.
Ninkovic has been linked by media reports with a move to Hyundai A-League Season 2020/21 newcomers Macarthur FC at the end of his contract.
The 34-year-old has become a club icon in his five years in Sky Blue colours, collecting a glittering array of prizes which includes two Premierships, two Championships, an FFA Cup, a Johnny Warren Medal and a Joe Marston Medal.
The Harbour City side have made the best start to a Hyundai A-League season by any team in the competition’s 15-year history in 2019/20.
Kosta Barbarouses was on target in the fifth minute at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium to send Sydney to a eighth win in nine matches.
But the possibility of Ninkovic’s exit is becoming a reality for Corica, despite the head coach insisting the club want to retain their playmaker.
“We’re going to try and keep Ninkovic, so we’ll wait and see,” Corica said.
“Every time Anthony Caceras comes on, he does a fantastic job.
“Of course, Ninko is a quality player and we want to keep him for as long as possible.
“Obviously it’ll be an impact if we lose Ninko but that’s not the plan.
“We want to keep him, of course, for a couple of years if we can.”
German master Alexander Baumjohann has excelled in recent weeks playing on the right side of Sydney FC’s attack.
The 32-year-old has shown his ability to control the flow of the match and unpick opposition defences, something Ninkovic is famed for.
“[Baumjohann] is really, really playing well,” Corica said.
“He’s creating a lot of chances for us, he’s working hard defensively and I think he’s getting each game.
“The more time he spends with the boys, and he knows the system now really well.
“He knows his job that he has to do and he’s doing a great job.”
Central Coast head coach Alen Stajcic believes a single concentration lapse cost the Mariners.
“Sydney scored and caught us out early off that free-kick,” said Stajcic, whose team are bottom of the ladder on seven points from eight matches.
“When you lose focus on for a second against a quality team you get punished.
“We got punished for 90 minutes of football for one action so it’s extremely disappointing.
“I thought we showed a lot of heart, a lot of effort, had a good game plan, well executed, but it just wasn’t enough.
“That one moment was critical. If you do that against other teams you might get away with it, but against a team like Sydney, you don’t.
“For that you don’t deserve to win, or deserve a point.”