City have lost three players – midfielder Connor Metcalfe, goalkeeper Tom Glover and winger Ramy Najjarine – for the three games the Olyroos are playing, while it is understood that a fourth, Denis Genreau was at first included and then left out when City asked for their game in Brisbane this Sunday to be postponed.
Under FFA regulations a club can ask for a match to be rescheduled if they lose two players to a senior national team or four to a junior one; when only three players were eventually called up City had no grounds to seek a cancellation.
Mombaerts did not talk about that issue specifically before his team trained on Friday in preparation for Sunday’s game against Robbie Fowler’s winless Brisbane side, but he made it clear his sympathies were with Genreau in particular.
“It’s not normal for Denis Genreau, is he an international player or not? It’s not good for his confidence,” said Mombaerts.
“I was a national coach before so [I know how it works]. It’s not a normal situation.”
As a former national junior teams coach, Mombaerts is sensitive to the needs of international coaches and club bosses. Playing through international breaks is not a smart way to deal with it, he insists.
“Connor and Ramy away with the Olyroos [as is Glover]. It’s always the situation that I am not happy with. We want to develop young players but they are not with us, for me it’s a crazy situation.
“How can we develop young players if they can’t play A-League games if they are away with the national team. They need to find a solution, it’s not a good way.”
Mombaerts’ side is on top of the table with four wins and a draw from five games despite not having top scorer Jamie Maclaren, who injured his hamstring in the 2-1 win at Western United in round four.
Maclaren is due to return for the trip to Brisbane, and Mombaerts hopes he will prove fit enough to start the match.
“We hope so. We have two trainings before the game. He is getting better, but we have made an intense session and we will see how he feels. I am confident [he will play but] I can’t decide today whether he will be fit enough to start.
“Its better for me if he starts. Because he prepares mentally to start with a good warm-up.
We are much better with Macca, now we have more solutions to score. But we will see.”
Mombaerts also had good news for Florin Berenguer, who has not played at all this season.
“He will start his first training session with the group but we will protect him, he will need one normal week, and maybe after that he can join the squad. But he needs one week more. He will start today.”
Michael Lynch is The Age’s chief soccer reporter and also reports on motor sport and horseracing