Wanderers enter the fray

THE Western Sydney Wanderers will take their first tentative step into A-League football on Saturday against the Central Coast Mariners at Parramatta Stadium.

The historic fixture will be a baptism of fire for the Wanderers up against last season's reigning premiers the Mariners.

On paper Wanderers coach Tony Popovic has built a competitive team but just how they'll perform at A-League level is anyone's guess.

In the club's 10 preseason games the Wanderers have impressed with six wins, three draws and one loss.

However, despite the solid start, the team's preseason form will count for little when they step up to a much higher A-League level.

Popovic has encouraged his squad to play a quick tempo passing game focusing on possession.

In preseason he's favoured the 4-4-2 formation with Croatian import Dino Kresinger up front as a target man.

Despite having a thin midfield, Popovic should have no problem with the team's forward options with several goalscorers.

Assuming he partners Mark Bridge with Kresinger, Popovic has the option of using Labinot Haliti, Tahj Minniecon and Kwabena Appiah-Kubi for pace on the flanks.

The Mariners have their lost influential centre half and team captain Alex Wilkinson.

It's this small window the Wanderers will be looking to capitalise on.

Creative midfielder Aaron Mooy and centre back Michael Beauchamp will form the team's spine along with new Japanese marquee signing Shinji Ono.

Ono will add plenty of bite to the Wanderers midfield with plenty of international experience to draw on.

Popovic said Ono will add plenty of talent to his team which now grows to 20 contracted players.

He does, however, want to sign two more players before the Mariners game.

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