Olyroos lynchpin Tass Mourdoukoutas has been challenged to seize his A-League chance by Western Sydney Wanderers coach John-Paul de Marigny.
The Wanderers' revival over the past month hit a hurdle at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday as they fell 3-1 to Brisbane Roar in a disappointing display.
The loss leaves de Marigny's team three points behind sixth-placed Adelaide United ahead of the Reds' clash with Western United on Saturday.
With just seven matches left in the 2019-20 season, de Marigny knows his team can ill afford another setback next Saturday when they take on Melbourne City at AAMI Park.
They'll have to face City however without two of their key defenders.
Fullback Daniel Georgievski will be serving the second match of the two-game ban he received for his red card in last weekend's Sydney derby win.
Joining Georgievski on the sidelines will be German defender Patrick Ziegler, who picked up his fifth yellow card of the season against the Roar and an automatic one-game ban.
It means 21-year-old Mourdoukoutas, who was pivotal in Australia's successful Olympic qualifying bid in Thailand in January, will be thrown in against City's forward line including Socceroos star Jamie Maclaren.
Mourdoukoutas has played just one minute of A-League action in 2020 but de Marigny was excited to see what the young gun can do.
"Tass has been really patient and he's worked extremely hard throughout the whole year," the Wanderers' boss said.
"We re-signed him because we feel that he's got a lot of potential, and he's a top pro.
"He's now got an opportunity to show us what his qualities are. I look at this as an opportunity for a young player."
Criticising his team for a lack of energy against the Roar, de Marigny said the challenge would be starting another good run after a four-game unbeaten streak came to an end.
"For us it's now about resetting," he said.
"We've had a tremendous month and the boys are hurting obviously."
Australian Associated Press