Concerns around COVID-19 will not prevent Melbourne City Head Coach Erick Mombaerts from leading his side for the remainder of the 2019/20 A-league season.
As the covid crisis took a grip in March, the 65 year old Frenchman skipped a trip to New South Wales for City’s fixtures against Central Coast Mariners and Newcastle Jets to protect himself and his family.
Assistant coach Paddy Kisnorbo oversaw City's 4-2 win over the Mariners, and the 2-1 loss to the Jets which turned out to be the final A-League game played before the competition's suspension.
With Australia now emerging from the lockdown, Mombaerts is set to play a full part again if/when the 2019/20 season finally resumes.
"Erick has remained in Melbourne during the lockdown period preparing for our return to training and is looking forward to finishing the season with the squad and being in the dugout with the team for the remaining regular-season matches and Finals Series,” a Melbourne City spokesperson told FTBL.
The news comes as rivals Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United go into the second half of the year still looking for head coaches, giving City a boost in their campaign to claim only their second piece of men's silverware.
City sat second on the A-League table before the covid freeze, and this week the squad began to trickle back into their Bundoora-based headquarters for fitness testing ahead of a planned resumption of training from 15 June.
Though on-loan Scottish defender Jack Hendry returned to the UK for treatment for a torn medial collateral ligament, the shutdown let Australian defender Richard Windbichler recover from hamstring injuries to be a possible late-season contributor.
Like Mombaerts, internationals Windbichler, Craig Noone, Florin Berenguer, and Markel Susaeta all opted to remain in Australia rather than return home, with Uruguayan winger Adrian Luna the only City foreigner to fly back to Australia and undergo mandatory two-week quarantine before he returns to training.
Having played more games than any other A-League team prior to the shutdown, City only need to play games against Adelaide United, Western United and Sydney FC to complete their 2019/20 regular season.
Though initially scheduled to play all three in Victoria, City are now set to meet Western United at AAMI Park – after the A-League new boys agreed to play their remaining home games against City and Victory there to speed up the end of the season – before travelling to Sydney to take on Adelaide and Sydney in the league’s new hub format.
Given the need to play just two games in the proposed hub to complete their regular season – compared to the six-games required by Sydney FC, Wellington Phoenix and Perth Glory – City may return to Melbourne after their regular season concludes before returning to the hub for finals.
But the details can't be finalised while broadcaster Fox Sports refuses to commit to the competition’s resumption, with fixture dates unable to be locked in until an agreement between the two parties is reached.