Melbourne City coach Erick Mombaerts says he hopes the A-League leaders can channel the frustration of their capitulation against Brisbane Roar into an improved performance against Western Sydney Wanderers.
City will face the Wanderers at Bankwest Stadium on Friday night, five days after dropping a 3-1 lead to lose 4-3 to the Roar, spurning a chance to extend their lead at the top of the table.
Mombaerts said his team - who have scored 13 goals in six games but also shipped nine - needed to find a better balance between attack and defence - especially late in games.
"(Hopefully) we can use this frustration to be more concentrated, to be better, to be better mentally and to be strong," Mombaerts said on Thursday.
"But I trust in our players - as they understood well about tactics, I'm sure they can also understand about mental strength.
"So I trust in our team, so we can do better, we can do better I'm sure - we can also improve - we have improved our offensive style, our offensive phases but we know that we have to improve also our defensive style of play."
City beat the Wanderers 3-0 in the FFA Cup quarter-final but Mombaerts said Markus Babbel's side had changed system since then and would offer a good challenge.
Mombaerts said he expected Jamie Maclaren to earn more minutes in his second game back from a hamstring injury, having scored a 51-minute hat-trick against the Roar - but stressed City wouldn't take any risks on the striker's fitness.
City will be without talented young midfielder Connor Metcalfe, who suffered a hamstring injury while he was away with the Olyroos.
"For Connor, he cannot play - he is injured. He got a hamstring injury," Mombaerts said.
Florin Berenguer has been named in the squad but Mombaerts said he was not yet fit to start, while the City coach was optimistic defender Richard Windbichler (hamstring) would return to main training next week.
STATS THAT MATTER
* Jamie Maclaren has scored 10 goals in 11 games against the Wanderers - only Besart Berisha (12 goals in 18 games) has scored more against them in A-League history.
* Western Sydney have conceded just four goals this season - fewer than any other team in the competition.
* The Wanderers remain undefeated at Bankwest Stadium (W2, D1) and have kept a clean sheet in their past two games at their new home.
* Melbourne City have won only one of their past 11 away games against the Wanderers, drawing three and losing seven.
Stats provided by Opta.
Australian Associated Press