Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic has backed teenager Lachlan Scott to replace last weekend’s hat-trick Brendon Santalab in Saturday’s clash away to Newcastle Jets.
Santalab is unavailable to face the Jets due to suspension, with Popovic indicating 19-year-old Wollongong-born striker is most likely to step in.
Scott has made 16 appearances for Wanderers this term, scoring two goals, with strikes away to FC Seoul and at home against Newcastle in January.
He has big shoes to fill with Santalab netting 14 goals this A-League season, including five times in the past two games, playing a big part in Wanderers' upturn in results which has them all but qualified for the finals.
Santalab was also nominated for the Professional Footballers' Australia Player of the Month.
“We’ll still look at a few things today and a few different options we’ve got,” Popovic said.
“We believe the young boy has been doing very well.
“Like all young players they have their ups and downs.
“We started him in the ACL a couple of weeks ago.
“We showed faith in him and the young boy scored a goal that I’m sure he’ll never forget.”
Wanderers have won their past two matches, 3-1 against Melbourne City and Wellington Phoenix, to all but seal a finals spot, holding a five-point buffer of seventh spot with three games to play.
Popovic can welcome back captain Dimas Delgado after he returned to his homeland Spain to be with his wife for the birth of their child.
However the Wanderers coach acknowledged he had selection headaches, given his side’s good form, making it hard for the skipper to automatically break back into the XI.
“The last couple of games we’ve pretty much kept the same team,” Popovic said.
“There are a lot of players that are missing out that are good players at the moment.
“It’s a very healthy competition that we have among the group in terms of the first XI.
“They all know there’s playing pushing every day trying to get into the side.”