Settled A-League City OK by coach Joyce

Ben McKay
AAP

It's taken until the last month of the A-League season but Melbourne City coach Warren Joyce finally has what he wants.

A settled side and a healthy squad.

The Englishman has long preached the virtues of side that picks itself, rather than one he needs to shuffle around because of form, injury or suspension.

Over the past three weeks it's clicked, with seven points out of nine - including an impressive 3-0 defeat of the Jets in Newcastle - and Joyce hasn't needed to change his side.

"During the season any good spells that we've had have been when we've had a consistent side," he said.

"When they earn the right to keep their place.

"If players are playing well, doing they're jobs, and you're winning, (they) pick (them)self and it make it impossible to be dropped."

So when Central Coast visit AAMI Park on Saturday, don't be surprised if the 'unchanged' tag sits below Joyce's team once more.

The one availability that might change that is Osama Malik - a Joyce favourite - who has recovered from a quad injury.

"He's back before we thought we were going to get him back," Joyce said, before suggesting the bench might be a more likely comeback position.

"He's nearly done everything (in training) that the other players have done."

With City in third place and eager to hold on to give themselves the best shot at an Asian Champions League place, it's hard not to see another win on the horizon.

The Mariners parted ways with coach Paul Okon after their last visit to Melbourne, which saw a 5-2 loss to Melbourne Victory last month.

STATS THAT MATTER

* City have won their last four against the Mariners in Melbourne. They haven't lost in eight overall and have scored 22 goals in that run.

* Central Coast haven't won in Victoria for four years.

* Bruno Fornaroli has scored in the 42nd minute of the club's last two matches - both 3-0 wins.