Bridge boost but Sky Blues lose skipper

Sydney FC striker Mark Bridge will be back in action for the Sky Blues’ derby against Central Coast Mariners this weekend, after several weeks on the sideline nursing a hamstring strain.

Sydney FC striker Mark Bridge will be back in action for the Sky Blues- derby against Central Coast Mariners this weekend, after several weeks on the sideline nursing a hamstring strain.

Bridge-s return will boost the confidence of his coach and teammates, and no doubt Sydney FC fans too, as the club has been without a full strength attack since their six-goal opening day thriller against Melbourne Victory.

Star striker Alex Brosque has been ruled out again this weekend with an ongoing ankle injury, but Bridge - who opted out of last week-s defeat against Brisbane Roar to ensure he would be back to full fitness this weekend - is confident the defending champions can notch up their first victory this year against the Mariners.

“As a team we improved a lot against Brisbane, considering how we played against North Queensland. We-ve got a good side, a good squad and it-s just a matter of some of the younger lads stepping up,” Bridge said during training at the SFS on Thursday.

The 25-year-old striker said he expects a physical game from Graham Arnold's side, but is confident Sydney's domination over their nearest neighbours will continue.

The Blues have won half of their 16 encounters against the Mariners, and have only lost two out of nine home games.

"They have a new coach and he'll have them playing some good football. We've had a video session so we know all their little tips and we'll be prepared."

Bridge was coy when pressed on what formation Sydney coach Vitezslav Lavicka would employ on Saturday given the absence of Brosque, but hinted that playing two up front might offer more opportunities for teenager Kofi Danning to open his goal account.

"Every game without [Brosque] is going to be tough, but Kofi did well last week. Unfortunately he was outnumbered for most of the time. If we play two strikers this week it might be easier for him," he said.

With two defeats and a draw to their name, last season's champions have had a less-than-ideal start to the season. But Bridge dismissed any tactical or formation issues being responsible for the slow start.

"It's just about us being in a little bit of a slump and not playing well...Concentration played a big part against North Queensland, getting the equaliser and then conceding the goal just a minute later," Bridge said.

"Lack of patience in build-up play also, we need to keep possession instead of trying to counter so quickly with just one up front. Let's make the other team chase us for once.

"The mood [within the squad] hasn't changed. It's early days and there's still a long way to go. A couple of wins and we're right back up there. It will be great to play at home, it's always good to have the crowd right behind you."

Sydney FC kicks off against the Central Coast Mariners at 7:30pm this Saturday, 28 August, at the Sydney Football Stadium.