Mind games or something else? City name McCormack in squad for derby clash

Ross McCormack’s either made a miraculous recovery, or Melbourne City coach Warren Joyce is playing mind games with his opposite number Kevin Muscat and seeking to muddy the selection waters as much as possible ahead of kick-off in the Melbourne derby this weekend.

Last Friday Melbourne City striker McCormack limped off the field in Sydney with what many feared to be a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury as City went down 3-1 to the league leaders.

On Thursday, just six days later, Joyce named the former Scottish international in his match-day party for the derby against Melbourne Victory on Saturday night – one of the most hotly contested fixtures of the season.

McCormack’s participation is highly unlikely – at least in the starting XI. The on-loan Aston Villa striker might not be anywhere near as badly injured as feared, but he certainly hasn’t trained with his teammates this week, having been restricted largely to rehab and gym work.

Still, it’s a measure of the club’s desperation, with so many of its front-line attacking players unavailable or gone, that Joyce is even prepared to make such a play.

Most likely youngsters Braedyn Crowley and Daniel Arzani will be given the chance to impress as strikers, although Joyce might want to have even a half-fit McCormack on the bench for an emergency. Or give that impression.

Veteran Neil Kilkenny, last season’s player of the year but a man who has been out of favour all season, has also been included in the preliminary squad for Saturday’s game as has young defender Connor Metcalfe and youngster Nathaniel Atkinson, who impressed so much on debut against Central Coast two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, Westfield, the former Frank Lowy-controlled conglomerate, will no longer sponsor the FFA Cup but will continue to back the W-League, the FFA announced on Thursday.