Sydney striker blow as Simon cited

Sydney FC’s attacking stocks took another blow with Matt Simon cited for lashing out at a rival player during the Sky Blues 4-1 win over the Central Coast Mariners on Saturday.

Simon is facing a possible ban after he struck the back of the head of young defender Harry Ascroft behind play in the first half at Allianz Stadium.

The incident escaped the notice of match officials but not the TV cameras and was referred to the Match Review Panel who have given the veteran striker until 3pm Tuesday to answer the charge.

A ban would further deplete Sydney’s attacking options.

Skipper Alex Brosque was subbed off on Saturday with a recurring hamstring problem, Shane Smeltz was out with injury and Andrew Hoole will be away on Olyroos duty for most of January.

Fourth placed Sydney will be sweating on a positive return from marquee Filip Holosko who was serving a one match suspension.

Graham Arnold's men take on the high-scoring Melbourne City at AAMI Park on Saturday with both teams locked on 20 points - City sitting third thanks to a superior goal difference.

Arnold, who has had to fend off recent criticism of his low-scoring strikeforce, may need to rely on a big performance from the likes of 18-year-old George Blackwood who has been on the fringes of the Sydney attack.

The coach was positive with his team's showing against the Mariners, who were reduced to 10 men after goalkeeper Paul Izzo received his second yellow on 28 minutes, and said the Sky Blues were better placed than this time last season when they eventually finished second to Melbourne Victory.

"It's hard sometimes playing against 10 men but the boys played exceptionally well," he said post-match. "We gave away a soft goal at 3-1 but overall we were there, we were much better."

He added: “This time last year we lost 3-0 to Adelaide so we're actually three points better off than where we were last year. We're actually closer to top position than what we were last year and we're happy with the position we're in. We're playing better and better and tonight could have been a cricket score."