Arnold laments fixture pile-up
The Central Coast Mariners face the prospect of fielding a 'B side' in the A-League finals, according to coach Graham Arnold.
Speaking after the Mariners' 1-0 triumph over the Brisbane Roar in Gosford on Sunday, Arnold outlined the stark reality of playing the A-League and AFC Champions League simultaneously.
The win secured a top-two spot for the Mariners and Arnold said he would give his side two days' extra rest in the coming week before they return to training on Friday.
The 49-year-old will entertain the prospect of fielding an under-strength side in the two remaining A-League regular season matches.
Arnold said the result 'might change the selection policy for next week (against Adelaide) and Melbourne Heart definitely'.
"I think I'll rest a lot of players," he said.
With an eye on the AFC Champions League, Arnold said: "We have got Guizhou Renhe on the 3rd of April (at home) and then Guizhou Renhe on the Wednesday before our first semi-final.
"I've got a plan in my head of what I want to do.
"It's either a youth team in the (A-League) semi-final or a youth team in the Champions League.
"Players can't do both."
Arnold spoke about the toll the tough run of fixtures was taking on his squad.
"The expectancy level of what they are doing (is too hard.) Physically we have got 19 players and it's been tough to push 19 players," he said.
"They are just out on their feet. I have given them off until Friday and we play Sunday. There are two types of fatigue – physical and mental.
"The physical side they are out on their feet and the mental side, their decision making and what they are doing (is below standard), they are off their legs."
Coming international fixtures are also set to hinder the Mariners, with New Zealand midfielder Michael McGlinchey and Australian goalkeeper Mathew Ryan to miss the Adelaide clash.
Arnold said the combined A-League and ACL fixtures could have a major impact on the domestic decider.
"We needed to tie up second spot because of the Asian Champions League, You have got the grand final, if we make it, on the Sunday and the Asian Champions League on Tuesday in South Korea," he said.
"I don't know which one we have got to concentrate on, it makes it difficult."