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Mariners turn focus from Olyroos to Reds

NZN 4/02/2017 Emma Kemp

Central Coast will put a disruptive week behind them in a bid to secure back-to-back A-League wins for the first time in nearly three years.

Coach Paul Okon predicts a fiery clash with last-placed Adelaide United reflecting the frustrations of the competition's bottom sides.

But he believes his youthful Mariners can claim three points in Canberra a week after shocking Perth for the second time this season.

The question is whether a key quintet of absentees can slip seamlessly back into the fold after three days away in Olyroos camp.

Liam Rose, Trent Buhagiar, Scott Galloway, Adam Berry and first-choice goalkeeper Paul Izzo were called up to national under-23s coach Josep Gombau's training camp on the Central Coast.

"We've had a bit of a disruptive week," Okon said.

"We had a number of boys away on Olyroos duty, which we're proud of, but it meant we had to miss them for most of the week.

"They've all come back in reasonably good condition, which is positive."

Not since April 2014 have the Mariners tasted A-League victory in consecutive weeks but they'll aim to exploit a slim Reds attack following the exit of imports Sergi Guardiola and Henrique.

In a major boost, Mariners top-scorer Roy O'Donovan returns from suspension, the Irish marksman likely to resume his starting spot at the expense of Josh Bingham.

Okon confirmed midfielder Rose will, at least for now, remain in defence.

He also hinted Fabio Ferreira might again be deployed in the No.10 role instead of on the wing, praising the Portuguese 27-year-old's runs through the middle.

Despite Adelaide's woeful season, Okon refused to underestimate the reigning champions.

"We're not playing Adelaide who are bottom of the ladder; we're playing Adelaide the champions," he said.

"Maybe, like us, they feel could have more points on the board.

"That fact of where they are and we are may contribute to a real fiery encounter."

STATS THAT MATTER:

* Central Coast earned a 2-1 victory in their last encounter with Adelaide.

* The Reds have scored only one goal in their past five away games.

* The Mariners have made 76 saves this season - 20 more than any other team and 29 more than the Reds.

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