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Sydney FC put faith in Brandon O'Neill while defensive search continues

Sydney FC's Brandon O'Neill
Brandon O'Neill has been used as defensive cover for Sydney FC.

Stand-in stopper Brandon O'Neill has revealed the support he has received from Sydney FC A-League coach Graham Arnold and centre-back Alex Wilkinson.

Sydney FC remain cautiously optimistic of adding an experienced defender to their ranks before Saturday night's A-League duel with the Western Sydney Wanderers.

But even if they don't land their man in time for a derby debut, the Sky Blues are confident Brandon O'Neill can fill the void at centre-back.

Matt Jurman's mid-season departure to Korea and Seb Ryall's untimely hamstring injury have created a defensive dilemma for Sydney coach Graham Arnold ahead of the Wanderers' visit.

O'Neill was drafted into the centre-half role when Ryall was forced off early in Sunday's 3-2 win over the Central Coast Mariners, and the 22-year-old said he'd be happy to reprise his role against the Wanderers.

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"I played there a few times as a last resort during my days at Perth Glory, but it [the position] does not come natural to me," he told News Corp Australia.

"When poor Seb went down, Arnie said 'right Brando, you can do it -- you know what to do.' We had a bit of a chuckle and I just went in there and tried to do the team proud.

"I had to switch off every midfielder thought that entered my brain, like wanting to push up further or try and play a cute ball.

"Once you do that and keep everything simple, you win your headers, you make sure you track strikers then it was fine."

Arnold told journalists after the Mariners win that a new defender, understood to be a countryman of Milos Dimitrijevic and Milos Ninkovic, could arrive as early as Monday night.

The club confirmed late on Tuesday there was "no update" on the signing, but the Sky Blues remained in the hunt to land their man before the Allianz Stadium match.

Sydney boast both a short-term and historical advantage over their cross-town rivals.

Arnold's side have won their past four games and are unbeaten all season, while Western Sydney are winless in five.

Then there's the much-discussed derby domination from the Sky Blues, who enter the match-up without a loss in three years or nine editions of the fixture.

While Sydney will also miss Josh Brillante through suspension, O'Neill said he was confident in his abilities as a stopper, especially given his defensive partner is Alex Wilkinson.

"He is one of the best central defenders in the country. He has played in Asia and for the Socceroos and he is so calm and composed," O'Neill said.

"He said 'I know you can play this role -- I'll help you all I can.'

"That made me feel very comfortable. That is what is so good about Wilko and Arnie. They have every confidence in you doing a good job."


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