Soccer: Corica wants reserve players to step up in trio's absence

AFC Champions League - Group H - Sydney FC v Shanghai SIPG

(Reuters) - Coach Steve Corica called on his back-up players to step up and help with Sydney FC's push for a third straight A-League Championship as the title holders prepare to go into the playoffs without three key players.

National team coach Graham Arnold has included Andrew Redmayne, Ryan McGowan and Rhyan Grant in Australia's squad for a round of World Cup qualifiers starting on Thursday, leaving Corica to rely on his reserves over the next three weeks.

"That's the way it is, the boys that come in have to do a good job," Corica told reporters on Saturday, referring to a scheduling clash that sees the climax of the A-League season coincide with qualifiers that are being played in Kuwait.

"Obviously we're disappointed that the three boys are going away with the Socceroos. Great for them because it's very special to play for the Socceroos, but it's bad timing for us.

"We have one game to go and we're going into the finals without three of our best players. But, again, it gives other players the opportunity and we just have to get on with it. We can't do anything about it now."

While Australia continue in their quest to move into the next phase of Asia's World Cup qualifying, Sydney take on Brisbane in their final A-League game next Saturday before advancing to the finals.

After their 4-1 win over Adelaide United, victory against Brisbane would secure second spot for Sydney, behind Melbourne City, and ensure Corica's team have home-field advantage in the semi-final stage of the playoffs.

"I think that was our best performance of the season," said Corica after Adam Le Fondre's double helped seal all three points.

"It's come at the right time. It's getting better all the time, the boys are. I thought we dominated from the start."

(Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong; Editing by William Mallard)