A-League champions Brisbane Roar aren’t missing key duo Besart Berisha and Ivan Franjic, according to vice-captain Shane Stefanutto.
Vice-captain Shane Stefanutto has denied the winless Brisbane Roar are missing Besart Berisha and Ivan Franjic, claiming the A-League champions are as strong as ever.
The Roar have given up leads to stumble out of the blocks in their title defence, losing to both Adelaide United and Perth Glory.
And that places them under some pressure against Sydney FC on Friday night.
Brisbane haven’t lost three straight games since midway through the 2011-12 season while no team has won the competition after suffering two defeats to start the season.
But Stefanutto dismissed concerns they were struggling without striker Berisha, who has continued to thrive at Melbourne Victory, and Moscow-based Socceroos fullback Franjic.
“Looking at our squad I think it’s strong as it’s ever been,” the veteran defender said.
“We’ve never relied on individuals and you can’t afford to rely on individuals.
“I’m very proud that as a club we’ve got a system and a structure that we stick to year-in, year-out.
“That’s what will continue to make individuals successful.”
Berisha’s replacement at centre-forward, fellow Albanian Mensur Kurtishi, enjoyed early success with the opening goal against the Glory but doesn’t possess the same energy as the former Golden Boot winner.
Without Franjic, rising central defender James Donachie has endured teething problems at right fullback with two own goals – albeit with one coming through an unfortunate deflection.
Despite twice giving up early leads, coach Mike Mulvey vowed his team would maintain their “unwavering belief” in their attack-orientated system.
“Losses come along, that’s not going to affect me, it’s not going to affect the players,” said Mulvey, who will guide the Roar in his 50th match at the club.
“It’s going to affect the fans and it’s going to affect the media because there will be a frenzy.
“But the bottom line is we believe steadfastly in what we are doing and will continue to do so.”
Sydney FC counterpart Graham Arnold still believes the Roar are as strong as ever, rating the defending champions the competition benchmark.
“I analysed the Perth game last week and they are nearly back to where they where last year,” Arnold said.
“They still have Thomas Broich who is a fantastic footballer and one of the best to come to this country.”
Pumping up the encounter as a “State of Origin” clash that rivals the Sydney and Melbourne derbies for intensity, Mulvey admitted the Roar only held a slight advantage with the Sky Blues coming off Tuesday night’s 3-1 FFA Cup loss to Adelaide.
Steven Lustica and Dimitri Petratos look set to play in the Roar’s two attacking midfield roles with Adam Sarota (knee) sidelined, Matt McKay suspended and Liam Miller on the bench.