Melbourne City can boost their defensive stocks by picking Harrison Delbridge for their important clash with Brisbane Roar on Sunday – if coach Erick Mombaerts is convinced the gangly centre back has eliminated the rashness that saw him sent off for the third time this season when City lost in Adelaide earlier this month.
Delbridge has served the two-match ban he incurred then for a late challenge in the second half of the 3-1 loss to the Reds and will be available for selection.
But an exasperated Mombaerts will have to weigh up the benefits Delbridge brings – height, speed and commitment – against his tendency to incur the wrath of referees for the enthusiasm with which he goes about his task.
Wildcard: Melbourne City’s Harrison Delbridge reacts after receiving a red card against Adelaide United in round 17.Credit:Getty Images
Certainly the Frenchman had harsh words for the former American-based defender after the Adelaide game, declaring that Delbridge had to control his emotions if he wanted to be part of the City line-up in future.
"It's always a similar situation … he lost his emotional control and he has made a mistake before … now he didn't control his tackle," Mobaerts said.
"It's too much, three red cards. It's too much, you have to have better emotional control."
Delbridge had been a first-team regular up to then, mainly alongside Curtis Good in a right foot/left foot combination at the heart of the City defence, but sometimes as a tall, rangy right back.
He had been dismissed twice before – in unlucky circumstances – for two yellow cards in previous matches, on both occasions picking up one of the yellows when the ball struck his hand.
Delbridge missed the 2-1 derby win over Melbourne Victory and the 1-0 defeat in Wellington while City had the bye last weekend.
In his absence tall midfielder Rostyn Griffiths has been dropped into defence and performed well as a makeshift centre back.
City have dropped to third position on the ladder, behind Perth Glory on goal difference but just ahead of Wellington on goals scored. All three teams have 30 points, but the Glory have a game in hand on both City and the New Zealanders.
Mombaerts will have a full squad to choose from for Sunday's visit of Brisbane Roar with the exception of their long-term injuries, the international centre backs Richard Windbichler and Jack Hendry.
Windbichler, capped by Austria at under-18 level through to under-21, joined the club before the season started but has been laid low by several long-term injuries and has only managed two games.
The latest was a hamstring problem but City officials are hopeful he might be ready to play in the final weeks of the season and be part of the squad for finals games.
Windbichler is currently running and trying to build fitness.
Hendry is also doing his rehabilitation at the club's Bundoora training base after rupturing a knee ligament in the loss to Adelaide, just his second game for the club.
The 24-year-old senior Scotland international only joined City in mid-January and his presence had allowed Mombaerts to rejig his team's structure and play with a back three.
He had surgery late last month and is on crutches, wearing a knee brace and working to build his strength up in the gym.
The best prognosis for him is that he may be back in time to play some part in the finals.
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