They’re flying and we’re not: How the Wanderers are approaching their Mariners meeting

Western Sydney Wanderers head to Gosford free from the burden of expectation against high-flying Central Coast Mariners, according to head coach Marko Rudan.

The Mariners host the Wanderers in a battle of second v third in the Isuzu UTE A-League on Saturday night.

Central Coast are riding a four-game winning streak on home soil, while Western Sydney have only won one of their past seven fixtures.

“There is no real pressure on us, because we’re the away team,” Rudan said.

They’re the team that is flying and we’re not, so it’s good for us.

“We’re grinding things out because our players are ready and I’m really positive about the run-in.

“I’m really looking forward to the back end of the season and that’s kind of where you want to play your best football as well.”

Western Sydney are set to be boosted by the return of creative linchpin Milos Ninkovic for the Mariners trip.

The former Serbia international, who gained Australian citizenship earlier this week, has been sidelined for the last six games through injury.

In that time the Wanderers have won just once without the former Sydney FC playmaker.

Thankfully for Rudan, the lack of victories hasn’t impacted their standing on the table.

The Wanderers can leapfrog the Mariners into second spot with a win on Saturday, with Rudan bullish about the impact Ninkovic could have on his side’s fortunes.

“I think Ninko is ready now,” Rudan said. “He’s very creative with the ball, his leadership, and just having him around the group gives everybody else a lot of confidence.

“Whether he starts or not is a different matter – that’s a conversation that he and I will have.

“He’s big chance of being there, that’s for sure. I’ve been ultra cautious with him because there are so many games to go.”

Rudan said his captain Marcelo had been given a lighter training week after coming off with an adductor injury in last week’s draw with Newcastle.

The Wanderers boss claimed the Brazilian defender should be good to face the Mariners, while star striker Kusini Yengi was “touch and go” for the trip to Gosford.