City's defensive duties rest at Tongyik's feet

DEFENSIVE DUTY: Young Ruon Tongyik
DEFENSIVE DUTY: Young Ruon Tongyik Tony Feder

FOOTBALL: Central defender Michael Jakobsen has been ruled out of Melbourne City's clash with Perth on Tuesday with a calf injury.

It means defensive responsibilities are again likely to be lumped largely with 19-year-old Ruon Tongyik at AAMI Park as City attempts to rebound from last week's 2-1 derby loss to Melbourne Victory.

City coach John van 't Schip said Jakobsen hurt his calf in a warm-up before training leading up to the derby.

The Denmark international has been a rock at the back for what has been a more defensively resolute City this season, but van 't Schip has placed great confidence in Tongyik in recent weeks, preferring him to the more experienced Connor Chapman.

Osama Malik (quad) remains sidelined, with van 't Schip saying the defensive utility isn't likely to be picked again until the Western Sydney game on January 6 at the earliest.

"They said (Jakobsen) maybe could be available, there was a chance for Perth and Central Coast, but Perth, he's not going to be available,” van 't Schip said yesterday morning.

"The next aim is Central Coast (on New Year's Eve) but that's also close, so that's going to be not sure as well. I can't say any more.

"It has maybe to do with the schedule we had before. Michael played in those games a lot.”

City is fourth on the table, two points behind Victory and three behind Brisbane, which had a 1-1 draw with the Wanderers on Friday. City has won just one of its past five league games, but lost last week for only the first time since November 4.

It was a period that also included the FFA Cup final defeat of Sydney FC and van 't Schip said he sensed his side had hit a bit of a flat spot after that momentous win.

The players were given four days off after the derby as well as Christmas and the coach said he hoped that would do the trick.

"We had those three games in six days (around the cup final) and then on top of that two really big games between Sydney and Melbourne Victory,” he said.

"The boys kept on working and put in an unbelievable effort but you could also see that the freshness was not maybe there as we would like.

"They had a few extra days off. We had a good rest and a good week of training. Everyone looks fresh. That's out of the system now.”


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