Central Coast Mariners coach, Phil Moss, has downplayed concerns that North Sydney Oval is a risk to player welfare, and says his men won't be looking for excuses when they face an in-form Melbourne Victory on Friday.
For the second successive season the Mariners will take a game to Sydney’s north shore in a bid to expand the club's brand south of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Victory boss Kevin Muscat, who slammed the decision to play at the venue, has withdrawn several players from Friday night’s clash.
Playmaker Gui Finkler and Scott Galloway are unlikely to take any part after both picked up recent injuries.
"Under the circumstances and where we have to play, there was no point trying to get them up for this week," Muscat said.
"It's too much of a risk to their body. Taking them to play on a cricket pitch is probably not the best idea."
Football Federation Australia gave the safety greenlight to the venue, as has Moss who inspected the pitch on Wednesday and spoke with groundsman Peter Devlin.
“I’ve got no concerns about the pitch,” Moss said following his side’s final training session before them match.
“I also know that FFA would not have let the game go ahead on a ground that wasn’t in good condition.
“I know Peter Devlin and his grounds staff at North Sydney Oval well, and they care just as much about player safety as they do how green it is, so I have got no concerns.
“We’re a club that prides itself on having no excuses and (until now) the pitch has not even been mentioned in our preparation.
“Victory have been kicking up a stink for three or four weeks now about it (but) we’re just focussed on our game plan and executing the game plan.”
Moss said while he respected Muscat’s decision to protect his players, the Gosford outfit was keen to test itself against Victory’s best.
“I hope they come full strength because it makes the challenge even greater for us and you want to test yourself against the best,” Moss said.
“I’m looking forward to matching wits with my mate Musky and I know the players are looking forward to playing against one of the top teams in the league.
“It’s a big match for us and a big challenge, and the greater the challenge, the higher the heights that we tend to reach.
“Our boys are focussed, and we’ve freshened them up this week after a spell of six games in three weeks.”
“The focus and intensity late this week has been fantastic, so we’re ready to go.”
Muscat suggested FFA approval counted for little after receiving similar assurances about Adelaide Oval where his players struggled with the hardness of the pitch.
“If the players have lost a bit of confidence, I don't blame them,” Muscat said
"The definition of safety is that you're able to do everything in your powers as a player, run around as quick as you want and not have a fear of being injured. Turn at high speed. The players don't think they can do that.
"Basically they'll run around with the handbrake on.”comments