Popovic to give injured Santalab until game day

Western Sydney Wanderers striker Brendon Santalab says he’s play through the pain though his coach Tony Popovic rates him as “touch and go” to play in the Asian Champions League final second leg against Al-Hilal this weekend.

Wanderers flew out of Sydney airport on Tuesday night bound for Dubai then Riyadh ahead of Saturday night’s (Sunday morning AEDT) second leg ACL final against Al-Hilal on Saturday night in Riyadh (Sunday morning AEDT). 

A typically confident Santalab was upbeat despite dislocating his right shoulder in Saturday night’s first leg 1-0 win over the Saudis in Sydney.

“It’s a little bit sore but making steps forward. Feeling better day by day,” Santalab told the media. 

Noticeably, the striker greeted media and teammates with his left hand not with the injured right. 

The hope is that by Saturday night in Riyadh the shoulder will  have settled down enough to be available for selection. 

Asked about his chances and a bullish Santalab rated them as very good. 

“Obviously a dislocation is not nice but it’s the biggest game of my career and this is when you have to step up and go through tough times if needed.”

However, his coach was taking a more conservative approach when asked about his striker’s chances of starting the game – or at least playing a part.

“He’s still in some discomfort. He tried to train today. He’ll be touch and go," said Popovic. 

"He’s a day-by-day proposition but we hope he’s available for selection. And he wants to be [available].

“And he’ll do everything he can. And the medical staff will do all they can but it might be one of those that we decide on Saturday.”