Walmsley questions FFA Cup scheduling

Central Coast coach Tony Walmsley has questioned the scheduling of the FFA Cup and says he may be forced to rest players for the Mariners' round-of-32 clash.

The matches for the final 32 will be played from July 28 to August 12, with the quarter-final stage brought forward this year compared to 2014.

The draw for the next round will be held on Wednesday, but Walmsley told FourFourTwo he could end up leaving out some of his more experienced Mariners from the cup game because of the risk of injury so early in their pre-season.

At this stage, the Mariners will go into the FFA Cup without a warm-up match, as they plan to start their pre-season later than several other A-League clubs.

“The timing of the round of 32 means we will be playing a game with only three weeks' preparation,” he said.

“We have to treat that first-round game as another pre-season opportunity. It’s probably come too soon. The timing isn’t ideal. If we’re able to get past the first round it’s a bonus.

“We’ll need to get the right players on the pitch with less injury risk. The likes of Joshua Bingham and Jake McGing will play a big role because of their match fitness."

Last year, the Mariners made it to the semi-finals, before eventual winners Adelaide United knocked them out.

Walmsley is an admirer of the FFA Cup but said the A-League remains his top priority.

“It’s a great competition,” he said.

“I obviously want to win the game but the A-League is my priority. Pre-season is important. I’d love a home draw in the cup ... [but] so early in our preparation, it would be a good time to play us.

“We’ll treat the round-of-32 match with caution. We may look at getting some trialists in for it."

Walmsley believes the draw for the final 32 could have been made sooner.

“I’d prefer the draw to be done earlier. At least we’d know what the date we’re playing is,” he said.

“It’s holding up our preparation. We might be able to get a game in [before it].”

Walmsley spent five years as a development officer with Football Federation Tasmania in the early 1990s.

He served as Tasmania’s state team coach at the national championships, running school development programs and coach education.

The Mariners boss would relish an FFA Cup tie against South Hobart FC, who have reached the round of 32 after a 4-0 win over Kingborough Lions.

The T-League side reached the same stage in 2014 before being knocked out by ACT’s Tuggeranong United on penalties.

That potential meeting will have to wait, with the Mariners certain to play a fellow A-League club in the round of 32 as they sit in Pot B - with five other top-flight clubs who will be drawn to face each other.

“I’d love to play South Hobart,” Walmsley said.

“Ken [Morton] is an outstanding coach.”