Sydney FC have refused to confirm Alessandro Del Piero will take the field in Saturday’s A-League trial against Newcastle Jets at WIN Stadium, even after the Italian superstar landed back in Australia on Tuesday.
Del Piero, who hasn’t played since the club’s pre-season tour of Europe, has dominated marketing campaigns in the lead-up to the event, with eager Illawarra football fans expecting him to take the field.
Fans have paid as much as $65 for ‘‘gold class’’ family tickets and as much as $115 each for corporate box tickets to see the A-League’s biggest drawcard in action.
Coach Frank Farina is expected to announce the World Cup winner in his squad for the match and Sydney officials said Del Piero would be in Wollongong on Saturday, but would not confirm the 38-year-old would pull on the boots.
However, Newcastle Jets captain and Bulli junior Ruben Zadkovich declared their marquee star Emile Heskey, who scored a goal in the Jets’ 3-0 win over Sydney Olympic on Tuesday night, will back up on Saturday.
‘‘I’m pretty sure he’ll be there,’’ Zadkovich said.
‘‘He might start, he might not, but he’ll definitely play a part.’’
The waiting game of Del Piero comes as championship-winning defender and Warilla junior Pedj Bojic has been ruled out after suffering a leg injury two weeks ago.
‘‘I’ll be missing this one. It won’t damage the start of the season, it was just a bit of a heavy knock,’’ Bojic said.
‘‘You always want to play where you grow up and have friends and family come and watch you but I’m sure I’ll see a few people around to say hi to. It’s not the end of things because the [A-League] season is the most important thing.’’
Despite the injury, Bojic has enjoyed a ground-breaking pre-season with his new club after transferring from the Central Coast Mariners.
‘‘It’s been pretty amazing considering we’re the first [A-League] club to touch European soil in the pre-season for any type of training camp,’’ he said.
‘‘It was a very professional set-up and we got to play some very tough sides over there, so I think it was very successful in the end.
‘‘I love being here [Sydney]. As soon as I first rocked up the morale was awesome and the people are fantastic. We’re really aiming to be successful this year.’’
The A-League All Star back tasted league and grand final success in a four-year stint with the Mariners and hopes to replicate that success at his new club, which failed to make the A-League finals last year.
‘‘That’s the plan,’’ he said.
‘‘Obviously you have a taste of success in recent years and you want to continue that. I didn’t come to Sydney to lose. I believe in Sydney and that this year we can go right to the top. That’s what we’re aiming to do with some of the players we’ve brought in and some the new structures in place. It’s looking really good.’’
Despite missing the clash, Bojic is pleased that Sydney is embracing the region where he played his junior football.
‘‘It will be great to see if we can unite ourselves with Wollongong. Sydney is just around the corner from Wollongong and it will be great to see Wollongong people support Sydney FC.
‘‘There’s a few young people [from Illawarra] who have come through in recent years and hopefully we can connect people to football more and get them coming to the A-League more.’’
Saturday’s match is a chance for Illawarra to enhance its future A-League prospects and Bojic said he would like to see a side in Wollongong in future.
‘‘We’re always looking for the A-League to grow and if Wollongong has a strong footballing community, which I’m sure it has from memory, it would be great. We want football to grow everywhere.’’