Mariners basking in the glow of superstar Garcia
IF CENTRAL Coast Mariners coach Tony Walmsley gets nothing else out of this A-League season, it will be the memory of having worked with one of the game's great players.
The Mariners may be propping up the table with just three wins from 17 games, but having former Liverpool star and Spanish international Luis Garcia in the squad for the second half of the season has made life a lot easier for Walmsley.
The 37-year-old only joined the squad three weeks ago, but showed his class in last weekend's 3-1 win against the Phoenix in Wellington, scoring a sublime backheel goal and setting up the other two.
Asked whether it was surreal to be working with a player of Garcia's skill and experience, the coach said it was what the left-winger could do with the ball that was mind-blowing.
"It's not surreal to be working with him, it's surreal what he can actually do - he's world-class," Walmsley said.
"He shows in every possession drill a range of unbelievable techniques and awareness that give him time when there's no time available to anyone else."
A lack of fitness has restricted the Spaniard's contribution on the pitch in his two games, and Walmsley had no qualms letting Brisbane Roar coach John Aloisi know that would again be the strategy in the clash at Suncorp Stadium tonight.
"Looking at how he's evolving, I'm pretty confident he can start against Adelaide next week," Walmsley said.
"Brisbane away ... it's going to be hot.
"We don't need him at this stage to go on and start the game, having to chase people down.
"It's better that we put other players on the pitch that can contain Brisbane for the first half, or hour, then he comes on and starts pinging balls for our (attacking) weapons to take advantage of."
Meanwhile, Aloisi paid tribute to midfielder Dimitri Petratos who this week joined Jamie Maclaren and Brandon Borello in being awarded a young footballer of the month nomination this season.
"It's a credit to Dimi, he worked hard in pre-season and he has been working hard ever since," Aloisi said.
"We all know that Dimi has a got lot of talent; I still think there's a lot left. I have known Dimi since he was a kid. He was a youth team player at Sydney FC when I was there. I expect him to keep on improving as a player."