Melbourne City coach Michael Valkanis is banking on the return of key defender Michael Jakobsen to cure his team's defensive ills and lock in a home semifinal in the A-League.
City face the genuine prospect of dropping out of the top four -- and losing a home semi -- after being outgunned 3-0 by runaway leaders Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium on Saturday.
It was the second time in as many weeks Valkanis' men had conceded three goals, leaving them grimly holding onto third place, two points ahead of fifth-placed Western Sydney.
Fourth-placed Brisbane can jump up a spot with a win over Central Coast on Sunday, making City's next clash against Adelaide on Friday a potentially season-defining match.
They then travel to Perth for the final game of the season.
"Look, it's in our hands. We've got an important game at home against Adelaide. We know what we have to do, there's no doubt about it," Valkanis said after Saturday's loss.
But City will have to resurrect a defensive wall that dropped its bundle in a game-turning 10-minute period when they gave up two goals from close range against Sydney.
First they failed to defuse a long throw that ended in Alex Brosque firing home from close range, and then allowed Bobo to walk in a cross at the back post in the second half.
"Two consecutive goals in a very short period, and that comes down to a little bit of focus in that period where they got on top of us a little bit," Valkanis said.
"But we have to be able to handle that period of pressure. We have to be able to do that. They're sloppy goals, they're childish goals. In a way, enough's enough."
Valkanis confirmed Jakobsen will make a sorely-needed return from a seven-week layoff with a calf injury to take on the Reds and stabilize their backline.
He is likely to re-unite with Manny Muscat in central defence.
"It comes down to as well not having a defensive line that's always playing together. You got someone like Ruon [Tongyik], who's a young boy," Valkanis said.
"He's going to make mistakes and he's going to learn. He's a player for the future. Today you got Manny coming back in and filling in a gap for us again.
"We have to get our players fit and back, like a Michael Jakobsen. We haven't had him in the last nine weeks. And I keep saying it -- I think he's the best defender in the A-League.
"And we haven't had him, so having him back next week will be gold."