The impressive debut of Kerem Bulut in Western Sydney Wanderers’ loss to Sydney FC has given coach Tony Popovic a selection headache for their Asian Champions League match against Guangzhou Evergrande on Wednesday night.
The new fan favourite bagged a brace against the Sky Blues in their dramatic 4-3 loss in his first ever professional match in Australia and put significant pressure on star striker Tomi Juric for a starting place against Guangzhou.
Amid a hectic match period of three games in the space of a week, both shared significant minutes on the field in the same role against Sydney FC with Bulut replaced by Juric early in the second half. The team only trained in recovery mode on Monday and Popovic says it is unlikely he will decide who will start against Evergrande until match day.
“We’ll have a look, we did a very light recovery session day. It’s been a hectic week in terms of travel and games and it’s a good, good headache to have. Were pleased that Tomi played well in Japan and Kerem was fantastic in the derby, that’s a little bit of what we’ve had in the squad this season,” Popovic said.
Bulut’s brace against his former club on Saturday night helped the Wanderers claw back to 3-3 from trailing three goals down midway into the first half and Popovic believes the best is still yet to come from the former Young Socceroo star.
“Kerem hasn’t played football for about seven months and once he and some other players get that 10-12 games under their belt, you’ll see the best of them,” Popovic said.
The Wanderers coach said his team would require a “miracle” to make the A-League finals as they’re still anchored to the bottom of the table with just eight points, but ruled out focusing all his attention on the Asian Champions League.
“We’ve got a lot of pride in our club and it’s still possible. We’ve won 10 in a row before. The boys will tell you I’m a real optimist, I’m a real believer and of course there’s a long way off making it, but it would be unfair to say we will just concentrate on the champions’ [League]. I think it will be disrespectful to the other A-League clubs fighting for positions,” he said.
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