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Sydney’s ALM rebuild a refresh for Corica

New faces, new formation and a newly rebuilt home stadium has left Sydney FC coach Steve Corica reinvigorated ahead of a massive A-League Men campaign for the Sky Blues.

Having missed out on finals for the first time in six years last season, Corica has been backed by Sydney officials to overhaul an ageing roster.

Corica had largely stuck with the core of the squad he inherited from predecessor Graham Arnold, leading them to back-to-back championships in his first two seasons in charge before losing the 2021 grand final to Melbourne City.

Last year seemed to be one campaign too far for that group however as Sydney finished a lowly 11th.

Long-serving stars such as Michael Zullo, Bobo, Kosta Barbarouses are gone while a messy attempt to re-sign Milos Ninkovic under which the Serbian veteran would only be offered a playing position if he secured Australian citizenship ended with the 37-year-old signing with cross-town rivals Western Sydney.

Socceroos Rhyan Grant and Andrew Redmayne have been retained, with Corica recruiting Slovakian international Robert Mak and ex-Huddersfield and Nottingham Forest winger Joe Lolley.

Sydney have also lured ex-England international Jack Rodwell in the opposite direction to Ninkovic while youngster Alex Parsons has moved south from Brisbane Roar.

For a club that has built its on-field success for so long on a largely unaltered squad, Corica says the new-look Sydney FC has him excited as the club prepares to return to Allianz Stadium after four years away from their home ground.

“It’s definitely freshened up everyone, from myself to all the coaching staff, they’re all excited, and then you can just see the reaction from the players as well doing something new because there’s been players still here – you’ve got Redders (Redmayne), Rhino (Grant), Wilko (Alex Wilkinson) – these are players that have been here for a long time and they’ve been used to the way we’ve been playing,” Corica told AAP.

“Anything a little bit different for them is good obviously.

“You can see they’re really enjoying it, with the new players coming in as well lifting the standard of training, which is great.

“We’re all very excited and looking forward to the start of the season.”

Corica’s new-look Sydney have begun life by reaching the last eight of the Australia Cup after a penalty shootout win over Central Coast and then a 2-1 triumph over Bentleigh Greens earlier this month.

A last-eight match against Victorian club Oakleigh looms next Wednesday, giving Corica a chance to showcase his team’s new approach once more.

“It’s fairly different … we’re playing with wingers this season,” Corica said.

“We believe it’s going to be a winning playing style.

“It’s going to take a lot of hard work to get there but that’s what this pre-season is about.”

SYDNEY FC’S KEY INS AND OUTS FOR 2022-23:

New signings: Diego Caballo, Robert Mak, Alex Parsons, Jack Rodwell, Joe Lolley.

Departures: Michael Zullo, Bobo, Kosta Barbarouses, Luciano Narsingh, Trent Buhagiar, Mustafa Amini, Harry Van der Saag, Milos Ninkovic, Elvis Kamsoba.

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