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Juric’s absence frustrate Macarthur in ALM

Macarthur FC coach Ante Milicic admits club and player are frustrated by Tomi Juric’s lack of appearances for the A-League Men’s club this season.

Signed as the man to replace Matt Derbyshire after the English striker’s departure from the Bulls at the end of last season, Juric has made just two appearances as a substitute all season for his new club.

The fringe Socceroo wasn’t even on the bench for Tuesday’s 2-2 draw with Western United – Macarthur’s first game in 36 days – and will again be absent for Sunday’s clash with Wellington at Campbelltown Stadium.

Milicic said Juric’s absence is a combination of niggling injuries and a lack of conditioning, with the 30-year-old a “week-to-week” proposition who needs to build match fitness via internal games rather than competitive fixtures.

“I rate him extremely highly as not only a footballer but also as a character, as a professional, as well,” Milicic told AAP.

“When I was putting the squad together we’d always looked at (Craig) Noone, (Ulises) Davila, (Daniel) De Silva and Tomi being in that front end.

“They’ve all got different qualities that I thought with time together on the field would be quite dangerous in this league.

“Unfortunately he’s given himself or us nowhere near the minutes that we would have liked for him.

“That’s a big loss for us but at the same time you look at someone like Lachlan Rose whose probably benefited from that and he’s got three goals, we moved him this year as a central striker and he’s done well.”

While Juric didn’t feature against Western, Tuesday’s game marked the debut of another fringe Socceroo forward in Apostolos Giannou.

The 32-year-old couldn’t find the back of the net in his first ALM appearance but is looking to lead the line against a Phoenix team that has conceded a league-high 15 goals in seven matches.

“He (Milicic) hasn’t got the best out of Tomi for whatever reason – I don’t know because I’m not there working daily with them – but he’s signed another player in Giannou as well,” Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay said.

“He’s a good quality player and look at the end of the day we need to rely on our structure and our beliefs and the way we want to do things.”

The Phoenix will again be without English defender Scott Wootton, but Talay confirmed goalkeeper Oli Sail will return from a hip injury as will All Whites duo Tim Payne and Clayton Lewis who have been cleared to play after returning from national team duties.

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