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Wanderers derby bigger than regular: Corica

Sydney coach Steve Corica says the A-League Men derby against Western Sydney will be even bigger than usual, after the Sky Blues again dropped precious home points in their chase for a finals spot.

Following Wednesday’s three ALM matches, the five NSW clubs are clustered together between fifth and 10th, with Melbourne Victory the only outsiders.

Sydney dropped to seventh after coming from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at home to Macarthur and have played more matches than any of those teams around them.

Victory and Central Coast have three games in hand.

A Wanderers away win on Saturday would lift them to within two points of Sydney with two games in hand.

Sydney have four more ALM fixtures before travelling to Vietnam for six Asian Champions League group-stage fixtures.

After the home derby, they play away to league leaders Melbourne City four days later and also travel to Central Coast and host Adelaide before heading overseas.

“We have to pick up a lot of points before we go,” Corica said.

“It’s always big, the derby (against Wanderers), of course, but especially after only picking up a point tonight, I think it’s even bigger.

“After that, we’ve got City midweek, so it’s a big week for us.”

Sydney fell behind to an early Macarthur penalty and Corica identified slow starts as one of the major reasons for their poor home record at Netstrata Jubilee Oval.

They have won just two out of nine games there this season.

“I just want a quicker start than what we had in this game and give ourselves a better chance of winning.”

He was optimistic that veteran playmaker Milos Ninkovic would be back for the Wanderers match after missing the clash with Macarthur with a hamstring injury.

“We maybe could have played him tonight but I think with his age and having that little problem coming off with a tight hamstring, I thought it was better to rest him and get him ready for the derby,” Corica said.

Captain and central defender Alex Wilkinson suffered a rolled ankle on Wednesday, but Corica expected him to be okay for Saturday.

Socceroos full-back Rhyan Grant is set to make a club record 268th appearance for Sydney this weekend, with Corica agreeing the defender was probably the finest player to emerge from their junior ranks.

“He’s played pretty much every position, especially early on, so yeah I think he is,'” Corica said,

“He’s been really good for the club a great guy, still full of energy.

“To have that many games at one club its hats off to him.”

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