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Western to swing changes for Sydney clash

Changes are on the cards for Western United as the A-League newcomers take on Sydney FC at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday with an eye to their maiden finals campaign.

United can finish as high as third if they beat Sydney, then Melbourne City on Wednesday but are wary of overloading players ahead of next weekend’s elimination final.

“We’re going to go into tomorrow’s game obviously wanting to win the game – it’s as simple as that and there’ll be opportunities for some other players,” United coach Mark Rudan told reporters on Friday.

“My main focus is for the first finals game … and I’ve got to put a team together for tomorrow and for Wednesday that’s going to allow that starting team for the first finals game (to) get enough minutes into their bodies, they still continue having that rhythm which is important as well (but) without overdoing them.”

Socceroo Josh Risdon won’t play after copping a knee knock against Perth while Rudan said Besart Berisha would be given the opportunity to push for this season’s golden boot but wouldn’t play 90 minutes in both games.

Berisha is third in the standings on 18 goals behind City’s Jamie Maclaren (20) and Sydney’s Adam Le Fondre (19) who each only have one game left.

Rudan is wary of Sydney, who have started to find patches of their best form over their past two games.

The United coach said the game would be good preparation if they play Wellington in the finals, as Ufuk Talay deploys a similar system to Steve Corica.

As the top placed team, Sydney have next weekend off so are set to play a strong squad in their final regular-season game – where they will be presented with the premiers plate.

Socceroo Rhyan Grant will return from a groin injury and Corica is keen to snap a four-game winless run but emphasised his side was looking at the bigger picture – their semi-final.

“We want to finish with a win leading into the semi-final,” Corica said on Thursday.

“But at the end of the day there’s no panic, we know we have to win the semi-final to make the final, it’s as simple as that – that is our main focus.”

STATS THAT MATTER

* Western United have won five of their past six A-League games (one loss), including winning their past two on the bounce

* Sydney have won three of their past four games at Leichhardt Oval (L1), including their last two in a row

* Max Burgess (Western United) has scored two goals and made two assists since the A-League resumed in July

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