MELBOURNE City head coach John van’t Schip has confirmed a near full-strength squad will line up against the Ballarat Red Devils for the inter-club friendly on Wednesday.
The McDonalds Reds will host the newly rebranded A-League heavyweight at Morshead Park at 7pm.
Van’t Schip said 22 City players, including David Williams and Robbie Wielaert and recruits James Brown, Connor Chapman, Jacob Melling and Aaron Mooy would take to the pitch at one stage or another.
However, gun defender Patrick Kisnorbo will miss the action as he recovers from minor pre-season surgery.
Van’t Schip expects a fired-up Red Devils to push the club in its first official match under the City logo.
“It’s going to be the first real hit-out for the boys,” he said.
“What we’re looking for is conditional. We want to see how well the players are gelling with each other and how well they are performing in different positions.
“We’ll switch around a little bit and it’s a good time to have a look at the youth team that we’ll be using in the coming months.
“We expect that we’re going to play against an opponent that’s very fit, and we’ll probably have one team playing each half.”
Regardless of how important the friendly is for the Red Devils, player manager James Robinson is exercising caution among his charges, given the club’s torrid injury run in the first 14 rounds of the NPLV.
“We’ll be using a full squad (because) it’s 72 hours before we play another match and we have training again on Friday,” Robinson said.
“That’s not taking any respect away from City, but we’re in the middle of our own season.”
Robinson has strong ties with Wednesday’s opponents.
He spent parts of 2009-10 rehabilitating a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament under City’s care in its maiden season as Melbourne Heart, and credits the club for extending his playing career.
“They’re a fantastic club. They helped save my career,” he said.
“This match will be a derby away from home (in reference to the English Premier League rivalry between Manchester United and Manchester City) and that’s a fantastic thing for Ballarat.”
The attendance for the match is expected to exceed that of the 1500 that attended Morshead Park for the Red Devils’ first home game of the NPLV.