The late inclusion of Western Sydney star recruit Jack Rodwell has added an extra layer of intrigue to the season-opening A-League Men derby clash with Sydney FC.
The ex-England international, who only confirmed a one-year deal with the Wanderers on Thursday, has been added to the Wanderers’ extended squad for Saturday’s game at Commbank Stadium.
Whether the former Everton, Manchester City and Sunderland midfielder will feature is unclear as Carl Robinson’s revamped Wanderers look to begin their campaign with a bang against their crosstown rivals.
The 30-year-old is just one of several new arrivals at Wanderland including Rhys Williams, Dimi Petratos, Tomer Hemed, Ramy Najjarine and Terry Antonis.
Najjarine and Antonis are both Western Sydney products and reflect Robinson’s ambition to secure talent with a connection to the community at the club.
Having spent time on loan at the Wanderers in 2017, Antonis is relishing the chance to play on a permanent basis with the club after a two-year stint with Suwon Bluewings in South Korea.
“It’s always a massive joy to represent where you come from,” Antonis told AAP.
“The last time I was here we made the playoffs and I want to take the club to the next step and win it.
“That’s why I’m here and a lot of the players here have the same vision. It’s not like we’ll just make it to the top six and we’re happy.”
Sydney meanwhile have once again stuck by the majority of the squad which finished runners-up to Melbourne City in both the premiership race and last season’s grand final.
Max Burgess, James Donachie and Elvis Kamsoba have joined Steve Corica’s squad with Ryan McGowan and Alexander Baumjohann the key departures.
For Antonis, who made 72 appearances for Sydney in five years at the club from 2010 to 2015, starting the new chapter of his career against his old team is a thrill.
“What a way to kick off the season,” the 27-year-old said.
“My old club and it’s a big derby match … there’ll be a lot of good challenges and I think it’ll be a good, high-tempo game.
“It’ll be exciting.”