Excited City youngster eyes derby start
TEENAGE Melbourne City midfielder Connor Metcalfe admits he will relish swapping "Row Z" for a leading derby role on Saturday night at Marvel Stadium.
City are $3.00 outsiders according to Ladbrokes despite an impressive pre-season where they booked an FFA Cup final berth, but Melbourne Victory suffered a blow on Tuesday with Robbie Kruse (hamstring) ruled out of the Round 1 clash.
Metcalfe has been City's breakout player in the off-season and scored a cracker in the semi-final win over Brisbane Strikers last week.
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Despite making his first City start in January 2018, Metcalfe had never started an official game before this season, making six substitute appearances totalling 80 minutes - including five last season.
But four FFA Cup starts under coach Erick Mombaerts indicates that Metcalfe is in the first XI frame.
"I've always been in bloody Row Z watching the games. I've probably watched 10 of them. Hopefully the 11th I get to start,'' Metcalfe said.
"I'm 19 years old and I've got the Melbourne derby coming up. I'd be so excited to start and get in front of all those fans, and play at Marvel Stadium.
"It'll be a great atmosphere and I'm so excited. Can't wait.
"So far the nerves haven't kicked in so much. I'm learning to deal with those nerves and get on with it."
While Metcalfe is a left-footed midfielder with an eye for goal, he has a healthy dose of aggression about him, which bodes well for the Melbourne Victory battle.
But he was looking beyond Round 1, and hoping to cement his spot in the City team after years in the youth setup.
"I'm not afraid to put in a bit of a tackle,'' he said
"It's just going to be a crazy environment to play in. First game of the A-League season, it's just going to be unreal.
"Hopefully it's a real breakout season for myself and a real positive season for the club.
"Last season I played around 80 minutes in total.
"My attitude coming into pre-season was to go (all in), break into the team, no matter who's in the way, just get into that team.
"As I've shown, I really wanted that.
"We work hard everyday to get into the team - you don't just train to train."
Metcalfe said the winning pre-season has bred confidence into the team that was knocked out in the first week of finals last season.
"We haven't lost one game, it's been a really long one - pre seasons go forever. We can't wait to start,'' Metcalfe said.