TOMOKI IWATA could get the nod from Ange Postecoglou to start in the sixth and final derby of the campaign this afternoon.
The Japanese midfielder has figured as a substitute in three previous encounters against Michael Beale’s side since his January arrival from Yokohama F Marinos to reunite with his former J-League boss.
Matt O’Riley has labelled his middle-of-the-park colleague “a tank” and today’s confrontation could be made to measure for the combative performer.
The contest for control in the engine room in these fiesty outings has been fierce and this may be a day for Iwata to make his fourth start for the champions.
Callum McGregor will again be in place in his usual anchorman role as he attempts to dictate the pace and flow of the game. Aaron Mooy is struggling for full fitness and is likely to sit out this occasion.
Reo Hatate and O’Riley have been ahead of Iwata in recent games, but this is surely one of the contests in which Postecoglou will believe is ideal for the player’s strengths.
Iwata is required to make two more appearances to ensure he qualifies for a league winner’s medal.
That probably will not be a concern of the manager or the 25-year-old international today, but it still looks like the ideal platform for last season’s J-League Player of the Year to display his qualities.
Over to you, Ange!
* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report and the best in action images – only in your champion CQN.