City prepare to start McCormack in season opener

Melbourne City's new boss Warren Joyce will gamble on the fitness of new signing Ross McCormack and include the striker in the starting line-up for his first game in charge of the club on Friday night.

City open the 2017-18 A-League season by hosting Brisbane Roar and the club's lack of recognised forwards means that McCormack, who only arrived in the country last Sunday, will be given a chance to impress.

The former Scottish international is on loan from English Championship side Aston Villa, where he is out of favour.

Joyce, who is missing his main striker Bruno Fornaroli through long-term injury and Socceroos veteran Tim Cahill, who is with the national team for the World Cup qualifier against Syria, is banking on McCormack's touch and desire to make a splash right from the start.

"It shows he is hungry and his desire to play football. It's positive that he was prepared to uproot and come here ... it's a great test for his character that he is willing to test himself and go again," Joyce said as he praised his new player's willingness to shrug off jet lag and make his debut.

"I think he's hungry to do well here."

The club's new Polish signing, marquee man Marcin Budzinski, will also play a role in the game although Joyce suggested he may may start on the bench.

Midfielder Budzinski is not as advanced in his fitness as McCormack, even though he has been in the country a few weeks longer, as the latter had completed a pre-season with Villa and had been training in a high-intensity environment before deciding to come to Australia to reboot his career.

Joyce doesn't like to give much away pre-game, but he admitted that despite the long off-season and the fact he has been at City since June, he is experiencing frustration in preparing his players.

"I am looking forward to it but it's frustrating because some have been here all the way through [pre-season] and some have come part way through. But it was good to get down to AAMI [Park] this week and have a training game.

"I couldn't fault the lads with their effort and endeavour. We have had to deal with some curveballs like Bruno's injury and the Sydney game was a massive disappointment - we didn't have any forwards and we didn't perform," he said, referring to the club's 2-0 loss to the defending champions in an FFA Cup quarter-final. "That was the one real gut-wrenching disappointment."

This year's build-up for City has been more low-key than in the past, when there was plenty of hype and expectation and they were regularly tipped to be champions.

"I wasn't here the past two years, so I am not concerned with what people thought then," Joyce said. "The only thing we can look at is the here and now.

"I don't reflect on whatever has gone in my past, the most important thing is the future, preparing for that," the former Wigan Athletic and Manchester United reserve manager said.

This story City prepare to start McCormack in season opener first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.