Adelaide ponder Irankunda start for Mariners final
Adelaide United are tempted to pull the trigger on starting wunderkind Nestory Irankunda for the first time in their huge A-League Men finals clash with Central Coast.
The Reds trail 2-1 heading into Saturday's semi-final second leg in Gosford and have to pull off a mighty win against the odds to reach the June 3 grand final.
Adelaide's determination to get on the front foot could prompt Carl Veart to hand the prodigiously talented 17-year-old attacker his first league start.
"He's right in the mix," Veart told reporters on Friday.
"He's a very exciting player and he causes a lot of issues for opposition teams when he plays.
"It's just a matter for us now working out whether we want to go with that impact straight from the beginning and try and get something or we hold on to that towards the end."
Veart believed the teen sensation had the fitness required to start, pointing to his increased minutes in recent weeks.
"You've seen the impact that he's had in all those games," Veart said.
"Yes, Nestor would be disappointed that that impact hasn't resulted in goals for him but I think last week he was very damaging and was unfortunate not to get a couple of goals."
Central Coast left-back Jacob Farrell did a fine job on Irankunda in the first leg but Veart wouldn't respond by switching the youngster to the left wing.
"We would back Nestor in against anyone," he said.
"He's developing, his improvement from week to week is quite high so we expect him to improve again this week.
"Nestor's always wanting to play. That's why we love him so much because he just wants to go out there and play and show what he can do.
"He's very close to being at that level where he can play for 90 minutes."
The Reds don't need to trawl too far back to find some inspiration for their attempted comeback.
On Friday morning (AEST), Sheffield Wednesday fought back from a 4-0 loss to Peterborough in the first leg of England's third-tier League One playoff semi-final, winning the return match 5-1 after extra time, then prevailing 5-3 in the penalty shootout.
"That's a huge result, isn't it?" Veart said.
"It just shows what's possible in football if you don't give up and you believe in yourself.
"Central Coast have just been too good for us and haven't allowed us to play to our best.
"So it's important that we go there and play at our maximum and play at our best and we know if we do that we'll win."